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Apple Accused Of Sending User’s Browsing Data To Chinese Tech Giant. Here’s How You Can Stop It

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Do you know Apple is sending web browsing data of some of its users to Chinese Internet company Tencent?I am sure many of you are not aware of this, neither was I, and believe me, none of us could expect this from a tech company that promotes itself as a champion of consumer privacy.

It has been widely reported that starting from at least iOS 12.2, Apple silently integrated the “Tencent Safe Browsing” service to power its “Fraudulent Website Warning” feature in the Safari web browser for both iOS and macOS.

Just like the Safe Browsing feature in Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, Safari’s fraudulent website warning feature has also been designed to protect users from various online threats by simply checking every website they visit against a regularly updated list of malicious websites.

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Until iOS 12.2, Apple primarily relied on the database of “blacklisted websites” provided by Google’s Safe Browsing service, which obviously had a privacy drawback, i.e., Google could know what websites you visit and may also log your IP address to maintain your browsing history. As noted by Inquirer, if you go to Apple’s Safari browser “About Safari & Privacy”, you will see this statement:

Before visiting a website, Safari may send information calculated from the website address to Google Safe Browsing and Tencent Safe Browsing to check if the website is fraudulent. These safe browsing providers may also log your IP address.

Now having Tencent on the same list, Apple is also giving the same privileges to Tencent as it does to Google. Franky, it’s not that Tencent is evil. People are actually not comfortable in sharing their data with Tencent because the company has close ties with the Chinese government which is well-known for spying on it’s citizens.

Does Apple Share Non-Chinese Users Browsing Data with Tencent?

It’s very much likely that Tencent’s list of blacklisted websites is used only in China, where Google services are banned, as an alternative to providing fraudulent website warning feature in the country. However, since Apple has not precisely mentioned in its privacy policy about this, it’s not clear at this moment if Safari is also using Tencent Safe Browsing outside of China.

How to stop it?

Anyway, if this feature worries you, you have the choice to turn the Fraudulent Website Warning feature “off” in Safari. But I would not recommend you to play with it as disabling the feature makes you lose protection from phishing. 

Since this feature comes enabled by default on all iPhones and iPads running iOS 13, users have to disable it by following these steps manually:

  • On iPhones: Go to Settings> Safari > Turn off Fraudulent Website Warning
  • On macOS: Head on to Safari >Preferences >Security > Uncheck Warn when visiting a fraudulent website

Also read: Apple Releases iOS 13.1, Here’s Why You Need To Update Your iPhone Now


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