Apple Using Tencent’s Blacklist to Block Websites in Hong Kong
Last month, Apple users in Hong Kong trying to access the code-sharing website GitLab were presented with a warning that says the website is being blocked for their own safety.
Safari’s “safe browsing” feature advised that because GitLab contains dangerous “unverified information,” rendering the content inaccessible.
Although access to GitLab was restored several days later, the warning came courtesy of Tencent, the Chinese giant behind WeChat and League of Legends.
The company operates the safe browsing filter for Safari users in China on Apple’s behalf, and now, this control is apparently extending to Hong Kong as well.
“They should be responsible to their customers in Hong Kong and need to describe how they will respond to demands from the Chinese authorities to limit access to information,” wrote Charlie Smith, the pseudonymous founder of GreatFire, a Chinese web censorship advocacy and watchdog group.
“Presumably people purchase Apple devices because they believe the company when they say that ‘privacy is a fundamental human right’. What they fail to add is *except if you are Chinese.”
While it remains unknown what information from Safari users in Hong Kong and China is ultimately transmitted to Tencent and beyond, it does show a single company’s ability to censor the web in the name of public safety.