Friday a report was released about a clipboard issue in OnePlus smartphones – today it’s been fixed and clarified. The first report cites Elliot Anderson, whose known for digging up data in smartphone apps. His report was meant to be a first investigation, but was reported as a major privacy invasion – which we’ve been on alert for in OnePlus devices before. Turns out this situation wasn’t anything to get too pumped up about.
In the tweet thread on Twitter you’ll notice a whole lot of data being thrown from a clipboard app to a company called TeddyMobile. The data sent seemed to be bad news – all sorts of pieces of text copied by the user and sent elsewhere without their expressed permission. That alone seemed pretty important.
In these words, we can find: Chairman, Vice President, Deputy Director, Associate Professor, Deputy Heads, General, Private Message, shipping, Address, email, …https://t.co/ePQvD1citn pic.twitter.com/3dCh0joVkH
— Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y) January 25, 2018
The problem came when this software was released in the company’s OxygenOS Beta when it should have been relegated to HydrogenOS. OxygenOS is the global version of the OnePlus operating system, while HydrogenOS is meant only for China. A statement has been shared by the OnePlus communications manager Eric Zarshenas.
“We apologize to our beta test users, for the confusion over an experimental HydrogenOS feature appearing in the global OxygenOS beta, which is being updated to remove it,” said Zarshenas. “The experimental HydrogenOS feature is designed specifically for the Chinese market, where a unique competitive situation between two major web service providers has led to some ecommerce weblinks being blocked. A workaround developed by one of the parties involved sending a token so that link sharing would function fully. We were testing a similar feature in the HydrogenOS beta.”
What madness it is when such a rather unique situation leads to what could have been a PR nightmare for the company. In reality, this seems to have a lot more to do with the non-open internet of China than it does with any malicious intent on the part of OnePlus. “Chinese online shopping the cause,” said Zarshenas. “We are removing the feature that sends a token to Taobao in the clipboard feature.”
Of course, you wouldn’t know that looking at the original Twitter thread, where plenty of xenophobia is there to be seen right out in the open. While I’m not generally the sort of person to defend a whole company in a situation like this, it seems clear that OnePlus remains in the crossfire of our current Smartphone Wars. Things aren’t pretty, and they’re not getting prettier.