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Apple-Tencent Privacy Controversy is Moving Towards Worse Directions

For a company that celebrates how it protects user-privacy, it was a blow for Apple when privacy advocates exposed that the company was sending iOS user data to Tencent Games, a popular developer based in China. Now, the same controversy is moving towards worse directions, since it’s being proven that Apple may have been doing it for quite some time. It should be noted that Apple had conveniently hidden the information that Tencent may be logging users’ IP addresses when the company said in iOS 13 release info that Safari is now powered by Safe Browsing from Tencent.

The biggest shift in iOS 13 as far as privacy concerns go was that Apple shifted from Google’s safe page data sources to something that Tencent provides. That is, if a user is about to visit a fraudulent website, the user data would be compared to a database so that the person can be warned. The problem is that all your IP-based actions would be submitted to the blacklist provider, which, in this case, is Tencent itself. Considering that tensions regarding China having access to US citizen’s private data have been on the rise recently, this situation is not helping Apple in any way.

“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,” reads the response from Apple, as received by The Verge. Security researchers, however, maintain that Tencent at the end has access to the IP address of the user.

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