Its intention is to stop network providers and websites from tracking users’ IP address and DNS records, which makes it harder for them to build profiles of users and target them online. However, as reported by The Telegraph, companies including Vodafone, Telefonica, Orange and T-Mobile express concerns that it would block access to data that supports their network and protects users from harmful online material.
“The way private relay is implemented will have significant consequences in terms of undermining European digital sovereignty. “Furthermore, private relay will impair others to innovate and compete in downstream digital markets and may negatively impact operators’ ability to efficiently manage telecommunication networks.” The letter was sent in August and signed by the chief executives of the respective companies.
“Customers who chose plans and features with content filtering (e.g. parent controls) do not have access to the iCloud Private Relay to allow these services to work as designed. All other customers have no restrictions”, a T-Mobile spokesperson from the United States told 9to5Mac. The concern of the Private Relay feature, according to Nader Henein, a research vice president specializing in privacy and data protection at Gartner, is its accessibility.
Apple’s “private relay” feature has being pushed by mobile phone providers to be banned by regulators. The feature, which debuted in iOS 15 and is currently in beta as part of Apple’s iCloud+ subscription, makes it more difficult for businesses to follow users’ online activities. Because Apple routes web traffic through Safari and then a third-party partner, as Wired notes, this is akin to a VPN, but Apple does not allow users to modify the device’s geographic location.
“Private relay purports to enhance users’ privacy when connecting to and browsing the internet by encrypting and redirecting traffic … thereby cutting off other networks and servers from accessing vital network data and metadata, including those operators in charge of the connectivity”, a letter from the four operators said.