Carriers Are Blocking iCloud Private Relay

One of the things that rolled out as part iOS 15 and macOS Monterey was iCloud Private Relay. In short it’s a feature that stops anyone, including Apple, from seeing what you are you are doing on the Internet. Think of it as being VPN “lite”. This document speaks to how it works if you’re interested in taking a deeper dive.

This feature has ticked off some mobile phone carriers, and they’re taking the step of trying their best to block this feature. A pair of stories from 9to5Mac show that several European carriers along with T-Mobile in the US are doing this. Though T-Mobile sort of, kind of denies this. This is why the European carriers are doing this:

The letter said that Private Relay cuts off networks and servers from accessing “vital network data and metadata” and will have “significant consequences in terms of undermining European digital sovereignty”. They say it will also impact “operator’s ability to efficiently manage telecommunication networks”.

I call B.S. on that.

Here’s the thing: These mobile carriers are ticked because they don’t get to mine your data and sell it to make a buck, which is what this is really all about. After all, actual VPN’s have been around since the dawn of time. But I am guessing that they haven’t been used on a huge scale so carriers didn’t care as they were able to still mine a large amount of data from most of their user base. But with over a billion iPhones out in the wild, the ability for carriers to make a buck is surely going to be impacted if iCloud Private Relay is allowed to succeed. Let’s say that this is turned off by default by Apple, but 35% of Apple’s user base turns it on. That’s hundreds of millions of iPhones. And if Apple turns it on by default they way they they turned on App Tracking Transparency, then carriers will really be bleeding cash.

And you can copy and paste what I said above for ISPs who must also be a wee bit freaked out about iCloud Private Relay on macOS Monterey.

I for one would love to see Apple have some fun with these jokers by making iCloud Private Relay so resilient that carriers can’t do a whole lot to stop it. It would serve them right for having them just use things like your browsing history to make a buck without your consent.

Get the popcorn ready. This is going to be a good fight.

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