In a world where every tech company is sharing and/or selling user data, Apple has always tried to (and mostly succeeded in) maintaining a high-ground with user privacy being a key focus for the company. However, recent reports might put that claim into at least some doubt.
According to multiple user reports, Safari on iOS is sending safe browsing data to Tencent servers in China. While Safari has always sent safe browsing data to Google’s servers for its Fraudulent Website Warning system which protects users from accidentally going to phishing websites, data being sent to Tencent is a much bigger deal to most users.
Since Tencent is a Chinese company, there are chances that the Chinese government can make the company use this data to identify and track users. Matthew Green, a professor in Johns’ Hopkins university said that malicious providers could theoretically identify users by linking site-requests.
The one silver-lining here is that so far it seems that this data collection is only happening for users in China, even though mention of data being sent to Tencent servers is reportedly found in the US disclaimer as well.
If this worries you (and it probably should), you can turn off Fraudulent Website Warning by heading to Settings -> Safari on your iPhone. However, be warned that this will make it less likely that Safari will be able to successfully identify malicious websites. That’s a trade-off you’re going to have to decide to make or not, but until Apple clarifies its position on what data is being shared with Chinese companies, it’s anyone’s guess whether your browsing activity is also being shared with Tencent.