Home Cyber Security News Apple Admit to Sharing iOS 13 Safari Browsing History With Chinese Firm Tencent Holdings

Apple Admit to Sharing iOS 13 Safari Browsing History With Chinese Firm Tencent Holdings

by Abeerah Hashim
Apple Safari browsing history shared with Tencent

Apple generally holds a boastful stance with regard to user privacy. However, some recent reports have made some dangerous revelations that may hurt the firm’s image as well as users’ trust. Apple shares part of users’ browsing history with the Chinese firm Tencent Holdings. This activity primarily affects users of iOS 13 and Safari browser.

Apple Shares Browsing History With Tencent

Recently, some media reports hinted toward Apple sharing data with a Chinese tech firm. Such reports surfaced online after Apple introduced the Safe Browsing feature in Safari in iOS 13. These reports claimed that Apple is sharing browsing history of users with Tencent.

Apple are admitting something alike in their warning to US users.

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.

It is already established how Apple takes care of the Chinese market. One such example was the mess up with Taiwan flag emoji and the word ‘Taiwan’ itself. So, people may have been quick to believe that Apple has begun sharing users’ data with the Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. too.

However, things seem rather misinterpreted. Apple explains that they are only using the safe browsing mechanism from Tencent, that too, for the users in China.

Apple Denies Sharing URLs

In a recent statement to ZDNet, Apple has made it clear that they are not sharing specific browsing history, or the URLs directly with Tencent. Rather they have only implemented Tencent Safe Browsing with regard to the ban on Google in China, as an alternate means.

Here is a copy of the statement from Apple.

Apple protects user privacy and safeguards your data with Safari Fraudulent Website Warning, a security feature that flags websites known to be malicious in nature. When the feature is enabled, Safari checks the website URL against lists of known websites and displays a warning if the URL the user is visiting is suspected of fraudulent conduct like phishing.
To accomplish this task, Safari receives a list of websites known to be malicious from Google, and for devices with their region code set to mainland China, it receives a list from Tencent. The actual URL of a website you visit is never shared with a safe browsing provider and the feature can be turned off.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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