T-Mobile wants iPhone users' data so badly it's blocking Private Relay
Last June, Apple announced a new, upcoming feature called iCloud Private Relay. Once utilized, the technology promised an additional layer of security and privacy for iOS users by sending users’ web browsing data through both an Apple-maintained server as well as an additional third-party contractor’s server.
Although the service’s “open beta” recently rolled out within the latest iOS 15 and macOS Monterey updates, certain T-Mobile/Sprint customers are reporting the inability to opt-in to the relay system. Unfortunately, that’s not a beta-related bug — the telecom giant is purposely disabling access, arguing that Private Relay affects its “ability to efficiently manage telecommunication networks.”
Uh huh. We’re sure that’s the only reason here, and not, say, ensuring T-Mobile can continue amassing massive amounts of invaluable customer metadata.
UPDATE: Okay, to be fair, T-Mobile has clarified that iCloud Private Relay doesn’t work for some users because the company already has its own version of the tech called T-Mobile Web Guard. “Most customers should have no issues using the feature on their devices, and if they do, they can likely reach out to support to have whatever conflicting feature is active removed from their plan,” explains The T-Mo Report, so do with that as you will.
A slow rollout —
Per 9to5Mac, an increasing number of T-Mobile subscribers has begun reporting a block for enabling iCloud Private Relay when connected through cellular data, first in Europe, and then stateside. Upon attempting to toggle the Private Relay ability in iOS Settings, the following message is given:
Your cellular plan doesn’t support iCloud Private Relay. With Private Relay turned off, this network can monitor your internet activity, and your IP address is not hidden from known trackers or websites.
As 9to5Mac notes, some T-Mobile/Sprint users have said they can still currently enable the Private Relay update, so it appears that the telecom company is slowly rolling out the measure to its customer bases both domestically and abroad. Basically, if you’ve got T-Mobile and can still utilize iCloud Private Relay... well, enjoy it while you can.
Not much to do about it —
Unfortunately, this is entirely within the communications giant’s rights for its services. T-Mobile is not beholden to its customers to allow Apple’s iOS feature, so this certainly appears to be yet another instance of telecom behemoths’ outsized power and influence at the moment.
Just last month, Verizon even sneakily one-upped T-Mobile’s decision by suddenly enrolling all its customers in a “Custom Experience” program. Although marketed as way to better tailor its services for you, the loyal subscriber, it really was just another way to glean as much personal info and preferences as possible for its own purposes. Luckily, disabling the update was pretty easy to do, so unlike T-Mobile, there was at least a silver lining to that story.