Does Wiko transmit sensitive information without the knowledge of its users? On Twitter, a man named “Elliot Alderson”, a nickname in tribute to the television series Mr Robot, denounced Sunday the practices of the French brand of smartphones. According to him, the company’s mobiles are equipped with preinstalled pre-marketing applications, the purpose of which is to transmit information about its customers to Tinno. This Chinese company is a longtime partner of Wiko: it manufactures smartphones, which are then sold by the French company. These data include the serial number and the IMEI code, which identifies all mobiles in the world. The purpose of this service is, in theory, to verify the use and the life of a product.
“Elliot Alderson” states that this information is sent to Tinno every month. They would not be encrypted, that is, not protected. Anyone intercepting these messages can therefore, a priori, read them. Users do not have the option of uninstalling these applications or setting them to stop this transmission of information.
Contacted by Le Figaro, Wiko relativizes the case. “Wiko smartphones are equipped with the Sales Tracking System (STS) application whose purpose is to establish sales and product life statistics. The data collected by the STS system is technical data, including the IMEI number, the serial number, the model name of the phone, the version of the Android operating system, “says the company”. The activation is done at first ignition, and every month exclusively via an Internet connection, and never by SMS. No data relating to the user, the use of the smartphone or applications is collected. “Wiko ensures, for example, that the location or the phone number of its users have never been transmitted via the application. STS
10 million mobiles sold in 2016
Wiko finally said that a new version of this STS application should be gradually installed in its mobile next month. It will be operated only once, when activating the phone, rather than every month. The data will also be stored in Europe, not China. Wiko does not detail for the moment how its old smartphones will be updated to receive this new application, replacing that of Tinno. This change must take place in the framework of the RGPD, the European Data Protection Regulation, which is to come into force next year.
Launched in 2011, Wiko has become a major player in low and mid-range phones in France. Based in Marseille, the company has sold more than 10 million mobile phones in 2016, in some 40 countries.
Wiko is not the only company denounced by “Elliot Alderson”. Last week, he took to the smartphones of the Chinese brand OnePlus. The latter has installed on some of its phones an application that allowed access, in part, their operating system, without the knowledge of customers. OnePlus announced a few days later that this problem was going to be fixed.