Apple’s Tencent privacy controversy is more complicated than it looks

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Late last week, privacy advocates warned that Apple was sending iOS user data to Chinese company Tencent, an alarming development for anyone who had taken the company’s privacy promises at face value. A note in iOS 13 mentioned that its Safari browser uses Tencent’s Safe Browsing system to help fight malicious webpages — but Tencent may log IP addresses in the process. While this has been true for months or even years, the news casts a harsh light on Apple’s recent struggles with surveillance and censorship in China — and the larger problems with privacy on the web.

Apple’s problems are based on a mostly uncontroversial iOS feature: Safari’s “Fraudulent Website Warning” option. The Fraudulent Website Warning, as its name may suggest,…

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