Apple Safari’s ‘Fraudulent Website Warning’ feature mostly relied on Google’s Safe Browsing technology. But starting with iOS 13, Apple has started using Tencent’s Safe Browsing technology as well to check and prevent users from visiting fraudulent websites
For the fraudulent website warning to work, Apple has to share some data like your browsing history with Google. While the URLs are usually hashed, Google receives a log of users’ IP addresses in the process and it seems like the Chinese tech giant Tencent will receive the same.
Now, a lot of people are fine with sharing browsing history with Google, but sharing any data with a Chinese company could make many users squirm.
And here is a question; what is Tencent going to do with that data anyway?
Google and Tencent, both log IP addresses for their anti-phishing systems to work, but Tencent has a history of working with the Chinese government. This raises the concern that such data could be used for surveillance or other nefarious purpose.
For instance, a malicious provider can theoretically manipulate Google’s Safe Browsing approach to de-anonymize a user by linking site requests. If Tencent implements a similar approach, the Chinese government could pressure someone into revealing the Identity of protestors in Hong Kong.
Apple is yet to comment on this development. Previously, Apple decided to ban a Hong protest app on the App Store to “best protects our [the] users.” The step will surely stir up a scrutiny for Apple, regardless of the tech giant’s motive behind it.
Meanwhile, you can turn off Fraudulent Website Warning in Settings>Safari. However, you should keep in mind that doing this will stop warnings from Safari if you come across a sketchy website.