Apple’s new iCloud Private Relay feature will not be available in China

Apple on Monday said that their new iCloud Private Relay feature designed to obscure a user’s web browsing behavior from internet service providers and advertisers will not be available in China due to regulatory reasons.

Apple's new iCloud Private Relay feature will not be available in China

iCloud Private Relay is a service that lets you connect to virtually any network and browse with Safari in an even more secure and private way. It ensures that the traffic leaving your device is encrypted and uses two separate internet relays so no one can use your IP address, location, and browsing activity to create a detailed profile about you.

iCloud Private Relay first sends web traffic to a server maintained by Apple, where the IP address is stripped. Next, Apple 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.

The use of an outside party in the second hop of the relay system is intentional, Apple told Reuters, to prevent even Apple from knowing both the user’s identity and what website the user is visiting. Apple will disclose which outside partners it will use in the system in the future, likely when the service comes online this fall.

iCloud+ combines everything users love about iCloud with new premium features, including Hide My Email, expanded HomeKit Secure Video support, and an innovative new internet privacy service, iCloud Private Relay, at no additional cost. Current iCloud subscribers will be upgraded to iCloud+ automatically this fall. All iCloud+ plans can be shared with people in the same Family Sharing group, so everyone can enjoy the new features, storage, and elevated experience that comes with the service.

iCloud+ plans: 50GB with one HomeKit Secure Video camera ($0.99/mo.), 200GB with up to five HomeKit Secure Video cameras ($2.99/mo.), and 2TB with an unlimited number of HomeKit Secure Video cameras ($9.99/mo.).

Stephen Nellis and Paresh Dave report for Reuters:

Apple’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 accounts for nearly 15% of its revenue.

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.

Apple said it also will not offer “private relay” in Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Uganda and the Philippines.

Combined with Apple’s previous steps, the “private relay” feature “will effectively render IP addresses useless as a fingerprinting mechanism,” Charles Farina, head of innovation at digital marketing firm Adswerve, told Reuters. It will also prevent advertisers from using IP addresses to pinpoint a person’s location, he said.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple believes privacy is a fundamental human right.

9 Comments

  1. The basic question is not whether Chinese consumers would prefer and deserve private versus compromised communications. It is whether they would prefer compromised communications to no communications at all. That is the only choice that Apple can offer them. It is ridiculous to claim that Apple has the resources to fight China inside China and win.

    The real question is how long it will take before the United States and other Western states prohibit this, too. As MDN often points out, in a political contest between security and freedom, security almost always wins. The state laws currently being passed on elections, protests, and immigrants are arguably examples. Once politicians reframe Apple security as enabling criminals, pedophiles, and terrorists to communicate undetected and without leaving evidence behind, it will be in trouble.

      1. His only alternative is to pull out of China entirely. What is the company going to sell for two or three years while it is trying to replace most of its manufacturing capacity? I know, not your problem.

        1. Cook SJW hypocrite grande should have been planning pulling out years ago once he realized his EPIC mistake. Putting all his eggs in one basket, looking the other way at China human rights abuses in the holy name of almighty profits.

          Leave China 100% A.S.A.P…

    1. It is whether they would prefer compromised communications to no communications at all.

      Riiiight.
      Apple cannot maintain half-hearted (i.e., compromised) communication as they have been emphasizing so much on importance of privacy. To continue this position, Apple can no longer offer any degree of compromised or state controlled communications. The only option left for Apple is to get out of China altogether. Recent sale of servers in China to Communist dictatorship is certainly pointing toward that direction. Without Apple controlled servers, iPhone is not SUPPOSED to function. It’s too bad Cook compromised his SJW grandstanding by selling servers WITH what’s inside which was most wanted by commies. Oh well, same old, same old, vintage Mr.Cook….
      So what happened to that letter issued by several congressmen?

  2. What do you know… Apple’s Timmy and Twatter’s Jack (ass) “Mr. Human Right” and Pede-Zuck’s Fakebook have been given the CCP’s ToS for China and these enlightened silicon Big Tech viruses have rolled over and agreed!

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