tech2 News StaffOct 15, 2019 09:26:26 IST
Apple, a company that often positions itself as a champion of human rights and privacy, was recently reported to have been sending some IP addresses from users of its Safari browser on iOS to China's Tencent.
Essentially, Safari has a feature called “Fraudulent Website Warning” in iOS and macOS, which is meant to enhance online security by cross-referencing URLs against a blacklist service provided by safe browsing providers such as Google and Tencent.
Per the report by Reclaim The Net, this setting can be accessed on an iOS device by heading to Safari > About Privacy & Security. There under the “Fraudulent Website Warning”, Apple acknowledges that it may send your IP address to safe browsing providers like Google and Tencent.
"...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."
Also, it was found that the “Fraudulent Website Warning” feature is on by default. Which means that the data sharing may have affected any/all users unaware of the feature. And if the user toggles the feature off, this makes browsing sessions less secure and leaves users vulnerable to accessing fraudulent websites. So the user loses both ways.
Meanwhile, in a statement to Bloomberg, Apple responded to the report saying that it actually does not send information to Google or Tencent. Instead, it receives a list of bad websites from both companies, which Apple uses to protect its users as they surf the web.
Apple responds to concerns over sending some Safari browsing data in China to Tencent pic.twitter.com/9XDwVNvCCP
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) October 14, 2019
Apple says that it sometimes collects information about website that users visit but that is only if it requests more information to check if a questionable website is malicious. The URL, or website address being checked, "is never shared with a safe browsing provider," Apple said.
Whether identifiable data is shared or not, Apple and big tech are currently in the spotlight for either directly or indirectly taking the trouble to placate China and turn a blind eye to the communist regime's handling of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Apple recently deleted an app that allowed protesters in Hong Kong to track the location of law enforcement, deleted the Taiwan flag emoji from the China region, and agreed to store iCloud encryption keys in China.
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