UK mobile operators want clampdowns on this key Apple service

Apple Private Relay on iPhone
(Image credit: Apple)

Industry body Mobile UK, which represents operators including EE, Three, Virgin Media O2, and Vodafone, wants competition regulators to investigate the impact of Apple Private Relay, a tool in iOS that allows users to hide browsing activity from third parties.

The Virtual Private Network (VPN) like feature hopes to appeal to privacy-conscious consumers eager to limit their exposure to advertisers, but also stops anyone else – including Apple and mobile networks – from accessing this data too.

In a submission to the UK Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) study of the mobile ecosystem, Mobile UK said that because all data is handled by Apple, it is the manufacturer rather than the operator that controls the experience.

CMA clampdwon

Furthermore, Mobile UK claims Apple is effectively assuming the role of a provider without the associated obligations, such as net neutrality, meaning it would be in a position to grow its own services.

This, the organisation argues, means that tools designed to optimise the network and user experience could be hindered because all data has to be transmitted through the iCloud service. Security and innovation would also suffer as a result.

On top of this, it argues that Apple’s dominant position as the platform holder means it would assume a strong position without the threat of effective competition.

Ultimately, Mobile UK would like the CMA to apply a remedy that limits the use of Private Relay or at the very least prevents its pre-installation on iPhone devices so that users can choose from a range of providers, including VPNs. Additionally, it would also like system warnings that inform users that their network experience could be compromised.  

Private Relay has attracted controversy on the other side of the Atlantic, with some operators denying they had blocked use of the service.

Via ISPreview

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.