Apple came under criticism on Monday for sending web browsing data, along with IP addresses, to China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd., the newest criticism of how the company operates on the planet’s most populous country.
For about two years, Apple has been sending knowledge to Tencent as a part of an iPhone and iPad security feature that warns customers if a website is malicious or unsafe before they load it. The U.S. firm checks address against a current list of sites identified to be problematic. That list is maintained by Tencent for users in mainland China and by Google for other areas, including in the U.S.
In newer versions of Apple’s iOS operating systems, the firm says this characteristic “may also log your IP address,” potentially offering Tencent, a Chinese web conglomerate with government links, data akin to a user’s location. The secure searching feature with Google was first included in iOS in 2008, but it was expanded to include Tencent with iOS 11 two years ago. Apple updated its description of the feature in more recent updates of iOS.
This isn’t the first time Apple has come under fire for working with a Chinese firm to deal with local data. Last year, Apple collaborated with Guizhou-Cloud Big Data to store iCloud data regionally for users in mainland China.