Apple has denied reports that carriers are blocking the VPN-like service iCloud Private Relay: “None of the carriers we work with block their customers from using Private Relay,” Apple said in a statement to Mac&i. Apple was also unable to confirm a bug cited by T-Mobile US that may disable private relay, with iOS 15.2 “no changes were made to iCloud Private Relay that would have disabled the function,” the company emphasized.
Apple: No bug, no blockage
A potentially misleading description in the iOS settings is to be corrected in a future version of the operating system. If the user switches off Private Relay – consciously or unconsciously – iOS 15.2 warns that the iCloud mobile tariff does not support Private Relay. In the future, it will be added there that the function may have been switched off by the user himself. The change has already been implemented in the latest beta of iOS 15.3.
More and more iPhone users in different countries complained about the warning that their carriers were already blocking Private Relay. Apple’s renaming of the switch for activating and deactivating the service at the network level caused additional confusion: From iOS 15.2 it is now called “Limit IP Address Tracking” instead of “iCloud Private Relay”.
Network operators lose traffic insight
At the beginning of the week it became known that large European network operators had already contacted the EU Commission about Apple’s private relay last year and complained that the service might undermine digital sovereignty. It also makes it more difficult to manage your own networks efficiently, it said.
iCloud Private Relay also hides parts of the traffic from the network operator. Apple relies on “Oblivious DNS over HTTPS” (ODoH), additional encryption and relays from two independent instances. Classic VPNs also hide traffic from the network operator, but their use should be comparatively manageable: If Apple activated iCloud Private Relay by default in iOS after the beta phase, several hundred million iPhone users would be using the service around the clock in one fell swoop .
Private Relay is not available worldwide: Apple does not offer the service in certain regions, apparently including Turkey and Russia. Network operators are easily able to block the relay service, which is intended for company or school networks, for example. But mobile operators can also block the function if the customer has booked a youth protection filter, for example.