Mobile phone companies in Europe have united on the heart of one man in order to ban the Private Relay feature and prevent Apple from adding it to its operating system because they see Apple’s privacy feature as violating digital sovereignty and therefore called on the European Union to classify Apple as the gatekeeper. This term means huge entities that have a strong impact in the European market.
Private Relay or “Hide Address with iCloud” was launched by Apple to protect your privacy while browsing the web through Safari browser. The feature is very similar to VPN services because it encrypts your browser traffic and hides your location and IP address of your device and so the network provider and websites cannot obtain any information about you and therefore becomes anonymous for mobile companies that want to block the Apple feature because according to their words violate the digital sovereignty of the European Union.
Why are mobile companies fighting Apple’s advantage?
Mobile phone companies in the European Union say that Apple’s “Hide Address with iCloud” feature prevents them from managing their networks because the Apple feature works by sending web traffic first to an Apple server where it is stripped of a part of the information called an IP address. After that, Apple sends traffic to a second server powered by an external operator that assigns the user’s temporary IP address and sends traffic to the website he wants to visit and this process hides the identity of the user and the website even from Apple itself.
“Apple’s Private Relay feature will have dire consequences in terms of undermining European digital sovereignty,” the European phone company said. Operators also asked the European Commission to designate Apple as the “digital gatekeeper” and this classification under the EU Digital Markets Act means preventing the US company from running the feature in its system there. However, some companies did not wait for the reaction of the European Union as T-Mobile banned its users in America from running the feature on iPhones.
Finally, iCloud Private Relay is available beta to all iOS 15 users and Apple hasn’t announced when it will be available in its final form. It is worth mentioning that Apple has not offered an advantage in some countries because the laws of these countries prohibit this type of advantage, the most famous of which are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and the Philippines. However, if Apple is considered the gatekeeper, according to the European Digital Markets Law (the law has not been approved to this day by all governments) this feature may be banned on users’ devices in Europe in the coming period.