While private relay is part of the company's new iCloud+ offering, it also announced a number of other privacy focused features at its developer conference including Mail Privacy Protection and upgrades to Safari's Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature to prevent advertisers and other third parties from tracking Apple users online.
Apple's decision to withhold private relay in China makes a lot of sense as the VPN-like service could allow iPhone and iPad users in the country to bypass the Great Firewall. Apple also makes around 15 percent of its revenue from its business dealings in China.
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This isn't the first time that the company has sided with the Chinese government over its users as back in 2018, it moved the digital keys used to unlock Chinese users' iCloud data to China so that local authorities could work through domestic courts to gain access to the information stored in their accounts.
Not just China
While private relay won't be available in China, Apple confirmed that the feature will also not be offered in Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Uganda and the Philippines.
For those unfamiliar, private relay first sends an iCloud+ user's web traffic to a server maintained by Apple where the IP address is wiped from the data. The company then sends this web traffic data to a second server maintained by a third-party operator who gives it a temporary IP address and then sends the traffic to its destination website.
By using an outside party during the second hop in its relay system, even Apple is unable to know both a user's identity and the websites they're visiting. Although Apple has yet to disclose which outside partners its using for private relay, it does plan to make this information available in the future.
Apple users eager to test out private relay for themselves will need to wait a bit longer as the new feature likely won't be made available to the public until later this year.
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After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.