Apple and Chinese hardware manufacturer Xiaomi are among 12 tech players Taiwan is citing for violations of its privacy laws.
The 12 companies have come under scrutiny from the Taiwanese government after it began investigating Xiaomi several months ago. Xiaomi was suspected of violating Taiwan's privacy laws by reporting user data to the hardware manufacturer's server without first obtaining the consent to do so.
While it wouldn't name all of the companies implicated in the investigation, Taiwan's National Communications Commission (NCC) reported the findings of its probe when its members convened on Dec. 4.
"Almost every one of them will register with their company's server," said Yu Hsiao-Cheng, NCC vice chairman, of the 12 phone models during the commission's latest session.
Taiwan's law is cut and dry, requiring tech companies to notify users when data is collected and where it's being sent, Hsiao-Cheng said.
Taiwan's Personal Information Law "is enacted to govern the collection, processing and use of personal information so as to prevent harm on personality rights, and to facilitate the proper use of personal information," states the first of the law's 56 articles.
The companies accused of violating the Taiwan's privacy law will be asked to modify their handsets in order to comply with the rules, the NCC vice chairman said. Failure to do so could result in over $6.4 million in fines and possibly an outright ban.
Xiaomi has already made several changes to its handsets to comply with Taiwanese law, those it appears those adjustments didn't satisfy Taiwan's standards. Xiaomi maintains that its device "never actively send any private user information without the users' approval."
While already under the scrutiny in mainland China, Apple CEO Tim Cook drafted an open letter months earlier to assure consumers and regulators alike that the tech company practiced the respectful use of consumer data. Consumer's trust means the world to Apple, stated Cook in the open letter.
"We believe in telling you up front exactly what's going to happen to your personal information and asking for your permission before you share it with us," stated Cook. "And if you change your mind later, we make it easy to stop sharing with us."
The NCC's investigation is said to be ongoing at this point and the Taiwanese government would likely issue a grace period to let the implicated parties make adjustments to their hardware on their own. The NCC said it may even be open to offering extensions if necessary.