After the company was scrutinized for reportedly blocking the feature from working on its network, T-Mobile has stated that a bug has prevented some iOS 15.2 users from using iCloud Private Relay. The Uncarrier told Mark Gurman of Bloomberg that they’ve reported the issue to Apple which appears to turn Private Relay off by default in version 15.2 of iOS. However, according to T-Mobile, the issue isn’t specific to any particular carrier, and it’s not the issue many have complained about.
9to5Mac was first to report about an issue pegging T-Mobile subscribers who began receiving error messages stating Private Relay couldn’t be used on their data places. It was believed the Uncarrier was enforcing a new policy that originated in Europe which restricted use of the privacy feature when on cellular data. Users said they received a message in their phone’s Settings app that said, “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.”
T-Mobile didn’t specifically mention this error message in its press comment, but it did deny any foul play.
It’s no secret that T-Mobile isn’t a fan of Private Relay. In a letter published not very long ago in The Telegraph, T-Mobile, Vodafone, and Telefonica all expressed their displeasure of the service. As The T-Mo Report points out, Private Relay tends to conflict with various T-Mobile services like Web Guard which rely heavily on content filtering, therefore requiring the monitoring of your data.
Apple’s Private Relay is the company’s take on a VPN and is bundled with iCloud Plus. It masks your internet activity and device information and hides it from virtually everyone, from your ISP to the sites you visit. It’s part of a broader effort to maximize your phone’s security, working in tandem with App Tracking Transparency which discourages third-party apps from tracking and sharing your personal data. Companies have frowned upon these features for a while since they restrict how much info they can capture on different users (something extremely valuable in the advertising world), so it makes sense to hear T-Mobile go on the opposing team.
That being said, T-Mobile is denying any involvement in the disabling of Private Relay, in spite of the coincidental timing. If the carrier is tampering with the feature, it’s not saying so, at least for the time being.