Alibaba-owned UC Browser was caught by a security expert tracking the web activity of iOS and Android users, whether they are in incognito mode or not. It is contrary to the app’s promise that the private browsing option does not record any browsing data.
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NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 19: Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma attends the company’s initial price offering (IPO) at the New York Stock Exchange on September 19, 2014 in New York City. The New York Times reported yesterday that Alibaba had raised $21.8 Billion in their initial public offering so far.
In the United States, UC Browser may have been unheard of.
Google Chrome, on the other hand, remains on the top spot. Apple Safari ranks second, while Samsung’s browser takes the third spot.
The Wall Street Journal reported that in Indonesia and India, the China-based browser leads the market share. It has snatched the top spot from Google Chrome. However, the latter has since banned the app together with other Chinese apps, such as TikTok. It was considered a threat to the national security of the country.
UC Browser: Busted
Gabi Cirlig, a security researcher, noticed that the Chinese browser is logging every website its users visit. Even the IP addresses are sent to the UCWeb servers, and alarmingly, these data are collected despite opting into the incognito mode, or the private browsing option.
Cirlig first observed the activities of the Alibaba-powered browser.
Forbes — along with two independent researchers — has since verified that UC Browser is indeed following the personal browsing activities of its users. The said server of UC Browser is located in the U.S.
However, it is registered in China as it includes a “.cn” in its domain.
Read Also: Alibaba Not China’s Top Shopping Site Anymore–Pinduoduo now Biggest E-Commerce; New Logistics Platform to Arrive
The Actual Danger
Moreover, each user unknowingly has a profile in the servers as they are paired with an ID number. As such, the surfing history of each internet user is stored and monitored by the company.
Cirlig said in his blog post that the danger lies when Alibaba uses the activities of its users to unveil their actual personas. He likened it to collecting all the URLs in a briefcase, and swiftly fleeing with them without telling the owners.
According to Apple Insider, it is contrary to what Google Chrome is doing. The popular browser does not collect the browsing history, information entered, and even the cookies, and site data.
It is not the first time that an Alibaba product collects too much data. On March 23, even the Chinese government banned WeChat and Alipay after crossing the line of information extraction.
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Written by Teejay Boris
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