Apple expands website censorship for Hong Kong users of Safari browser

Filters built into Apple’s Safari browser are designed to prevent users from accessing malicious websites. However, these filters are designed and implemented in China by Tencent, which usually heavily censors web content. Now the Cupertino-based tech giant is quietly expanding its censorship of websites for users living in Hong Kong.

According to 9to5MacSafari users in Hong Kong now see a warning saying “The website you are looking for has been blocked for security reasons” when trying to access certain websites. Although internet access in mainland China has been heavily censored for decades, the situation was much better for Hong Kong citizens before the new 2020 security law was passed.

Cho Ka Cheong, a software engineer and former Apple employee, noticed on December 30 that access to websites such as GitLab (an online platform for open source code) was suddenly cut off. Safari announced that this website was blocked due to non-verification of information.

After the situation was brought to the company’s attention, access to GitLab was enabled a few days later. However, Apple and Tencent did not explain why the website was blocked. Although access to GitLab was restored, it was unclear how many other websites were affected by the block, or even why the Chinese censorship was imposed on Hong Kong users without further explanation.

The above conditions also raised concerns about Apple’s compliance with the demands of the Chinese government.

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