Apple may be sending the IP addresses of users of the Safari Internet browser on iPhones to the Chinese tech giant Tencent, discovered the website focused on internet freedom Reclaim The Net. It is unclear in which cases that happens exactly.

The possible sharing of IP addresses is part of the 'Report fraudulent websites' function, which allows Apple to check information about websites to warn users of phishing.

This protective layer uses a technique called Safe Browsing. With this, the web page is analyzed to find out if a page presents itself as a legitimate page, for example the site of a bank or e-mail provider, to capture user data.

Safari's privacy settings state that Apple sends information from the web address to Google Safe Browsing and Tencent Safe Browsing to check whether the website is fraudulent. "These Safe Browsing providers may also register your IP address," it can be read.

"Tencent is not a Google"

It is unclear when Tencent was added as a partner for this function in addition to Google and which users fall under "possible". Apple does not yet share details about the data exchange with Tencent. The tech company, known from the social medium WeChat, has to cope with severe censorship in its home country of China.

"Tencent is not Google", security technologist Matthew Green analyzes on his blog. "Although they may be just as reliable, we (Safari users, ed.) Have the right to be informed of these changes and make choices. Users should at least be notified before Apple takes the feature put into service. " asked Apple in the Netherlands for a response on Monday morning. This message is supplemented as soon as more information is known.