Apple announced a new iCloud Private Relay feature at WWDC 21. At the time of the announcement the company did not mention any country limitations for the feature but it has been reported that the feature will not be launching in Uganda, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, China, Belarus, and Turkmenistan.
iCloud’s Private Relay feature first sends web traffic to a server maintained by Apple where it is stripped of a piece of information called an IP address. After that, the tech giant sends the traffic to a second server maintained by a third-party operator who assigns the user a temporary IP address and sends the traffic onward to its destination website. This process hides the user’s identity and the destination website from Apple.
iCloud Private Relay to not be launched in China, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, and more
Bringing in an outside party in the relay system is an intentional move that Apple says was designed to prevent anyone, including Apple, from knowing a user’s identity and the website they are visiting. However, the company’s decision to withhold the feature in China is the latest in a string of compromises the company has made on privacy in a country that generates nearly 15% of its revenue.
Apple told Reuters that the following countries will not be offered Private Relay in Belarus, Egpyt, China, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Uganda, the Philippines, and Turkmenistan. The company has not yet disclosed which outside partners it will use in the system but plans to reveal them in the future. The feature will not become available to the public until later this year.
In 2018, Apple moved the digital keys used to lock Chinese users’ iCloud data, allowing authorities to work through domestic courts to gain access to the information.
China’s ruling Communist Party maintains a vast surveillance system to keep a close eye on how citizens use the country’s heavily controlled internet. Under President Xi Jinping, the space for dissent in China has narrowed, while censorship has expanded.
iCloud Private Relay is available with any paid iCloud storage plan, and the company has not yet changed the pricing. Upgraded storage tiers start at $0.99. iCloud+ also includes a new Hide My Email feature that lets you create unique, random email addresses that forward to your personal inbox.
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