Nokia is in trouble for sending data to China

Yolanda Curtis
March 22, 2019

Finland's data protection ombudsman said on Thursday he would investigate whether Nokia-branded phones had breached data rules after a report said the handsets sent information to China. There was also rough location information, as the device sent the ID of the nearest cell tower. According to them, HMD didn't want to say whose server it was. Collected data included the phone's Global Positioning System coordinates, network information, phone serial number, and SIM card number. Allegedly, on-device data such as Global Positioning System location, the device serial number, and even the user's phone number were being transmitted back to a Chinese server. HMD's claim here is a bit odd, considering the entire point of "activation data" is to identify someone so they can be billed for cellular access.

The Finnish-owned company HMD Global, which manufactures Nokia handsets and has recently seen robust sales growth on the Chinese market, told NRK that some information from the 7 Plus handset has been sent to China, but denied that individual users can be identified from the data. The server has been discovered to be owned by the state-owned China Telecoms telecommunication company.


The statement says that the company made a mistake regarding user activation for another country.

An undisclosed number of Nokia 7 Plus smartphones have been caught sending their identification numbers to a domain owned by a Chinese telecom firm.


According to NRKBeta, HMD has already said, "This error has already been identified and fixed in February 2019" and that "all affected devices have received this fix and almost all devices have already installed it".

Just fixing the issue probably won't be the end of this situation, though.


So too does Finland's data protection ombudsman Reijo Aarnio, who is looking into the incident for possible data protection law violations, according to Reuters. HMD said it "takes the security and privacy of its consumers seriously" and that it will cooperate with any investigation.

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