October 28, 2016

China mulls to prepare its own secure smartphones


As China, the world’s largest smartphone market, grows wary of US surveillance, it is mulling its own “secure” smartphones in an attempt to insulate them from surveillance.

The effort – another step in the country’s quest to build a homegrown tech industry – would involve state-owned companies as well as some of the private players, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has joined with China’s ministry of public security to develop a mobile operating system for police officers that it bills as more secure.

The country’s largest chip-design company, Spreadtrum Communications Inc., separately said it would begin mass producing a set of chips that run a Chinese operating system by year-end.

In China, almost all handsets are either iPhones or are powered by Google’s Android operating system – something not to the liking of Chinese officials.

Even the Chinese-made ZTE Nubia Z5 smartphone runs on Android and includes a Qualcomm Inc. processor.

Now, ZTE Corp. is working on a secure smartphone for government agencies using an operating system developed in-house, and a processor chip from a Chinese supplier, a company spokesperson was reported as saying.

However, ZTE’s secure phone reportedly would not boast of features like camera, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connections to minimize security risks. But without these features, the phone is not likely to appeal to the general public.

At the same time, a ZTE spokesman said that it was not possible to use exclusively Chinese-made hardware and software in a smartphone, but to meet the needs of government agencies it is trying to use domestic suppliers as much as possible.

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