Apple has confirmed that issues pegging iCloud Plus’ Private Relay aren’t derived from carrier intervention. The company told news outlets like 9to5Mac that carriers aren’t responsible for the issues users have been reporting in regards to Private Relay, and that includes T-Mobile who was accused of deliberately blocking the feature from being used on its network for some users.
In its statement, Apple also said there were no issues in iOS 15.2 that resulted in Private Relay being disabled by default for cellular networks. This was an excuse T-Mobile used to shed light on what was causing Private Relay to malfunction for its subscribers.
iCloud Private Relay is an innovative internet privacy service that allows users with an iCloud+ subscription to connect to the internet and browse with Safari in a more secure and private way. We have rolled Private Relay out in beta and it’s available in most countries around the world. No carrier partners have blocked their users from taking advantage of Private Relay.
No changes were made to iCloud Private Relay in iOS 15.2 that would have toggled the feature off. Users are encouraged to check their Settings to see if Private Relay is enabled on their device or for a specific network.
In addition, if you do experience an issue with Private Relay, Apple says it will be updating its messaging in iOS 15.3 to be more clear in how it defines the error. Currently, the message reads:
Private Relay is turned off for your cellular plan. Your cellular plan doesn’t support iCloud Private Relay. With iCloud Private Relay turned off, this network can monitor your internet activity, and your IP address is not hidden from known trackers or websites.
In iOS 15.3, the message will read as follows:
Private Relay is turned off for your cellular plan. Private Relay is either not supported by your cellular plan or has been turned off in Cellular Settings. With Private Relay turned off, this network can monitor your internet activity, and your IP address is not hidden from known trackers or websites.
Apple is also updating its support page for Private Relay that notes having “Limit IP Address Tracking” turned off in your cellular settings can affect the feature. This could be the reason why people on T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon were experiencing problems with the security feature once they switched to cellular data.
On Monday, reports began flooding in about T-Mobile allegedly blocking users’ ability to use Private Relay when on cellular data. Private Relay is Apple’s take on a VPN that hides information like your IP address and device specs from ISPs and the sites you visit, therefore making it much harder to identify individual users. The Uncarrier has voiced its displeasure with the feature in the past, so many assumed it was the company blocking it at a system level. In a follow-up statement to 9to5Mac, the company further clarified the situation at hand, citing Apple’s updated support page for information on the issue.
We wanted to update what we shared earlier. Apple doesn’t change customers’ settings when they update to iOS 15.2. Customers may see an error message if they previously toggled iCloud Private Relay or Limit IP Address Tracking off in their Cellular Data Options Settings. Apple has more details on their support page for this feature here.