Apple has started activating a filter in its standard browser Safari for Hong Kong territory. According to a media report, the technology is based on censorship software from the Chinese group Tencent, which had previously only been used in mainland China. Hong Kong, which belongs to China, enjoyed more freedoms than mainland China for years after it was returned by Britain, but the principle of “one country, two systems” is being weakened more and more, for example by new security laws and a crackdown on democracy activists and journalists .
GitLab suddenly dangerous
Apple has now extended its use of a blacklist of banned websites controlled by Tencent to Hong Kong users, according to IT outlet The Intercept. Its primary purpose is to prevent visiting sites with malware or scam content, but it also seems to come with a lot of censorship. For example, harmless offers such as the developer website GitLab have already been blocked – presumably because it had already been used for activism against the Beijing government. A few weeks ago, when trying to open it in Safari, it said the page contained “unconfirmed information”. However, access should now be possible again.
Tencent is an internet giant in China. Among other things, he operates the super app WeChat. But the company also operates the so-called Safe Browsing Filter for Safari users in China on behalf of Apple — and now in Hong Kong as the Chinese government increasingly takes control of the territory, writes The Intercept. Former Apple employee Chu Ka-cheong, who lives in Hong Kong, tweeted that Apple was doing this. The company previously said the Tencent blocklist was only intended for Safari users in mainland China.
Apple complies with local laws
When criticized, Apple always emphasizes that it has to comply with local laws – although the company maintains a progressive image, which also includes the commitment to human rights and freedom of expression. In mainland China, the iCloud is already stored on the servers of a hoster controlled by the Communist Party, for which criticism is regularly hailed. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the GitLab incident. Inquiries should be directed to Tencent, she told The Intercept. There was no answer from there either. It’s still unclear at this point how Tencent decides what to block and what not. In mainland China, however, the censorship measures are much stricter because the entire Internet is censored centrally there – via the so-called “great firewall”, which intervenes directly in the data traffic.
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