Last week there was several reports about some folder with labels with Baidu – the Chinese search engine – that have been appearing on phones, mainly on Sony’s new Xperia Z3 series and others running KitKat. Many users and media concluded that theis was spyware, perhaps bolstered by recent and more credible reports of digital spying and hacking linked to the Chinese government.
There were some rather disturbing properties of these files; the “Baidu” folder couldn’t be deleted by non-root users and sniffing network activity showed that these phones were pinging servers in China.
Sony Mobile has officially answered concerned users with a less alarming explanation. “Rickard,” a vetted Sony employee, explains that the MyXperia app uses both the Google Cloud Messaging Service and the Baidu Push Notification framework in order for Sony’s proprietary software to work in China. So no user data is being transmitted to mainland China from Sony-made apps.
While you only have Sony’s word for that, any regular Android user who dives into his or her phone’s file system will know that randomly-named folders and data files tend to appear on the /sdcard partition. Sony support says that to avoid this confusion in the future, the MyXperia app will be updated and won’t ping Baidu’s push system.