Chinese phones have got some bad press in recent years, and this looks set to continue after Gionee planted malware on millions of devices. The company has now distanced itself from the guilty subdivision.
Gionee has been found guilty of planting malware on 21.75 million smartphones in order to generate more income. The phone company was once the top mobile brand in China, but it has seen tougher years since the rise of the iPhone in the country. It seems that Gionee looked to new revenue streams while facing declining popularity, and not all of them were legal.
A subsidiary of Gionee, Shenzhen Zhipu Technology, teamed up with Beijing Baice to implant a Trojan Horse program. The software was installed without the knowledge of users and utilised a ‘pull method’. After a hot plug-in update to the Dark Horse Platform, the SDK version of the Story Lock Screen app began to leak data. This methodology allowed the unapproved app to take data from users and sold on for illegitimate ads and purposes.
The ‘pull method’ was used 2.88 billion times between December 2018 and October 2019, and resulted in 27.85 million yuan (£3.2 million) of revenue.
In response, the Chinese courts have fined Shenzhen Zhipu 400,000 yuan. On top of this, four employees from the company have also been sentenced to a minimum of three years in prison and been fined 200,000 yuan each.
On the back of this ruling, Pandaily noted that the company addressed the incident on Weibo:
Flyme’s operations has always adhered to the law and did not participate in related illegal incidents. In the future, we will continue to strengthen our mobile phone security business to ensure information security.
While the company has distanced itself from events, this reflects poorly on the phone manufacturer during a time when Chinese phones are already being scrutinised. Going forward, Gionee will likely try to put this incident behind it, but it remains to be seen whether consumers trust the company again.
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Topics: Technology, Now, smartphone, Tech