Sci-tech

Some Apple Users' Safari Data Sent to China's Tencent, Researcher Says

Some Apple Users' Safari Data Sent to China's Tencent, Researcher Says”

Apple faced scrutiny following reports it is sending web browsing data to a Chinese tech company.

The language in Apple's documentation indicated that this browsing data may also include IP addresses, which the two companies may log in their systems - Tencent for Chinese users and Google for other regions.

In the wake of backlash about this practice, Apple released a statement that clarifies who it uses for its Fraudulent Website Warning, Tencent or Google.

It is not the first time that Apple has been criticized for working with a Chinese company to handle local data. Apple explains that it is just utilizing Tencent as a sheltered perusing supplier for clients with their gadgets set with a territory China district code. The URL, or website address being checked, "is never shared with a safe browsing provider", Apple said. The browser can warn you by accessing Google's Safe Browsing service, which functions as a giant blacklist of malicious websites on the internet. Nevertheless, it's uncertain when Apple started sending user information to Tencent as well.

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In an effort to protect users from the wild west of internet phishing scams and malware, Apple has long included a "safe browsing" feature in Safari that will alert you when you might be visiting a website that's known to be fraudulent. Green, for instance, pointed out that Google's current version of Safe Browsing uses a hashed (anonymised) version of website addresses. However, according to Johns Hopkins University teacher Matthew Green, a malicious service provider might in theory utilize Google's Safe Browsing method to de-anonymize a user by linking their website requests. Apple also said that despite this being a default feature it can be turned off. The most recent release of the Safari browser will prevent publishers from detecting when users have private mode enabled. Leave it on, however, and your data could be shared with Tencent, a company that isn't as interested in protecting your privacy as Google.

"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", the company said in a statement for Bloomberg. "While they may be just as trustworthy, we deserve to be informed about this kind of change and to make choices about it".

Which brings us back to Tencent. If you normally practice very safe browsing habits and only visit known sites, this shouldn't be a big problem, but you'll have to be even more on your guard when it comes to visiting links from things like emails and text messages.

It also came under fire for removing a maps app in Hong Kong that the developer said was created to help users avoid areas of protest.



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