Apple has found itself in the middle of another storm in a China teacup, this one relating to the company’s inclusion of a Chinese company’s safe browsing service within its Safari web browser.
Apple’s Fraudulent Website Warning feature in Safari for iOS and Mac has come under scrutiny for using Chinese internet giant Tencent as one of its Safe Browsing providers. However, it’s unclear when Apple started sending user data to Tencent as well.
From iOS 11 in 2017, Apple has stated on devices bought in China that it uses Tencent, but at some point that same privacy notice has appeared on US iPhones and iPads too.
The Safari feature dubbed “Fraudulent Website Warning” in iOS and macOS — is meant to enhance online security by cross-referencing URLs against a blacklist service provided by safe browsing providers such as Google and Tencent.
Microsoft, likewise, has a similar cloud-based anti-phishing and anti-malware tool called SmartScreen built into most of its products such as Windows, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, and Outlook.
Regardless of whether the safe browsing provider is Google or Tencent, if you’re not comfortable with this setting being on by default, you can turn it off by following the steps listed below:
- iOS: Settings > Safari > Turn off Fraudulent Website Warning
- macOS: Safari > Preferences > Security > Uncheck Warn when visiting a fraudulent website.
Note, however, that you will then lose the protection against malicious sites.