Safari bookmarks aren't end-to-end encrypted despite Apple saying they were

Ipad Mini 6 Review Safari
Ipad Mini 6 Review Safari (Image credit: Adam Oram / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple updated a support document recently to suggest that its Safari browser bookmarks are end-to-end encrypted, but that isn't the case.
  • The same support document has now been updated again — removing mention of end-to-end encryption.

Last week Apple updated a support document to note that its Safari bookmarks were end-to-end (E2E) encrypted. Now it's updated the same document to say that no, actually, that isn't the case at all.

First reported by AppleInsider, the update means that Safari bookmarks are now simply listed as being encrypted "in transit and on server." While that's still encryption, it isn't quite the same level of encryption as we might have hoped.

Here's how Apple explains E2E encryption on its devices.

End-to-end encryption provides the highest level of data security. On each of your devices, the data that you store in iCloud and that's associated with your Apple ID is protected with a key derived from information unique to that device, combined with your device passcode which only you know. No one else, not even Apple, can access end-to-end encrypted information.

Whether this makes any tangible difference to most people is a matter for debate — the new iOS 15 Safari will make more difference to most — but it's absolutely something worth noting. Safari is undoubtedly the best Mac and best iPhone browser around, but it isn't yet clear why Apple updated the support document in the first place. Is this a change that is coming, but isn't ready, or should we not expect E2E encrypted bookmarks at all?

I've reached out to Apple for comment on the encryption situation and will update this post if and when it responds.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.