Apple has issued a statement today following a slew of misleading and poorly-researched media reports that were published over the weekend, claiming that the Safari web browser was secretly sending user traffic to Chinese company Tencent.
All the reports were anchored in a recent discovery that Apple had implemented a second "safe browsing" system within Safari.
Safe browsing mechanisms were named so after Google's Safe Browsing service. They work by taking a URL a user is trying to access and checking it against a database of known bad sites.
For years, Apple has used Google's Safe Browsing API inside Safari to check for bad links. Starting earlier this year, Apple also added Tencent's safe browsing system to Apple as well.
But this update has been misinterpreted by several news outlets over the weekend under scary headlines of "Apple sends users' web browsing history to China," amid a recent rise in Chinese anti-sentiment and fearmongering triggered by the recent Hong Kong protests and the US-Sino trade war.
However, the reality is that this is not how modern safe browsing mechanisms work.
It's true that early versions of safe browsing mechanisms did rely on sending a URL over the internet to a "safe browsing provider" where the link was checked against a remote database of malicious sites.
But, nowadays, most safe browsing mechanisms, such as those managed by Google and Tencent, work by sending a copy of the database to a user's browser and letting the browser check the URL against this local database.
According to Apple, this is also how Apple developers have implemented Safari's safe browsing mechanis - to never send the user's internet browsing traffic to safe browsing providers.