Apple New Proxy Feature

With the upcoming iOS 14.5 update, Apple will roll out a feature that will ensure that Google is unable to obtain the IP addresses of iOS users. All of Safari’s Safe Browsing traffic will be re-routed through Apple-controlled proxy servers. This new feature has been confirmed by Maciej Stachowiak, Head of Webkit Engineering at Apple.

However, this feature is optional unlike Whatsapp’s mandatory policy update. This feature will be activated only when the user activates the “Fraudulent Website Warning” option on Apple’s iOS Safari settings on the iPhone and iPad.

Safe Browsing System : Google v/s Apple

Google detects malicious and compromised websites by scanning portions of Google’s web index. Once the websites have been identified, Google tests these websites by using a virtual machine.

If the website proves to be malicious, then it is added to Google’s online database. Even phishing sites are identified by Google using statistical models.

Apple however, will send a hashed prefix of the URL to Google Safe Browsing to check if it has been listed there, and to identify a potential match. Until now, Google could view the IP address from where the request was being originated.

However, with the iOS 14.5 update, Apple’s use of proxy servers for Google Safe Browsing traffic, Google will not be able to view the IP addresses. This should further enhance and improve users’ privacy while browsing using Apple’s Safari.

Companies such as Facebook are not too happy with this update, and have vehemently opposed it. They believe that this would have a negative impact on the advertising industry.

However, Apple is not too worried about it and has squashed these fears. Apple states that “We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users. Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not. App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 does not require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising, it simply requires they give users a choice”.

In short, Apple is not against sharing user identity. It just feels that users should have a say on whether their identity is to be shared or not.

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