Apple has announced quite a few privacy-enhancing features during its annual software developer conference (WWDC 2021) that held on June 07, 2021. According to the presentation, iPhone users will get even more control over their own data with iOS 15.
For instance, users will be able to see with whom apps share their data. Additionally, there will be an option for stopping trackers from knowing that you have opened emails. Undoubtedly, this is will redefine the whole digital advertising market.
However, the feature that seems to have received the most attention is Private Relay.
The new feature will encrypt users’ browsing history and protect this information from common trackers and interception. Unfortunately, while it is a component to get excited about, not all iOS users will have the chance to try it. In some countries, the privacy-enhancing feature won’t be available. Why? Let’s find out.
China Blocks the Private Relay Feature
With Private Relay, tracking users’ browsing history is impossible for even the internet service provider or anyone who comes between your device’s request and the server. In the upcoming months, Apple should release more information about how the feature will work.
However, while Private Relay quickly became the feature users anticipate, not everyone will receive it. Due to local laws, people in China won’t be getting this feature with the next update.
Well, the Chinese government exercises strong control over the content accessed within its borders. Additionally, many apps and services are blocked due to political reasons. Since Private Relay would allow users to conceal their activities, Apple cannot offer this feature to its clients in China.
It’s not yet clear whether system upgrades will simply exclude Private Relay for users in China and the other countries to have banned it or if it’ll be banned by the internet providers there. It’s also not clear whether the feature will be blocked in Hong Kong as well, which is coming under increasing censorship over the past year. However, some sources claim that the feature will work just fine in Hong Kong.
Features Unavailable in Some Regions/Countries
The Private Relay feature will also be unavailable in Colombia, Belarus, Uganda, Egypt, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, and Turkmenistan. However, this selective integration is not necessarily shocking. After all, there are other features and apps banned in countries due to political or societal reasons.
Many of Apple’s features are unavailable outside the US and the UK. For example, you won’t get their news app in many countries, while the Siri facility isn’t available to make bookings for sporting events or make restaurant reservations or buy movie tickets in Ireland.
Again, Facebook has declared that some features available on Messenger and Instagram shall be temporarily unavailable in Europe. This is in abeyance with new rules imposed on messaging services available there. It has a lot to do with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Thus, in some cases, the governments’ decisions to ban certain apps or services might relate to their data gathering practices.
After the release of GDPR, many online services became temporarily unavailable to people in Europe. Websites and app owners had to readjust their data-harvesting techniques. One of the crucial requirements was to give users control over their data. Thus, if you are from Europe, you can request your personal information to be deleted from a company’s assets.
However, while Private Relay would be an excellent addition to all iOS clients, some regions won’t be able to experience it. Local laws are always taken into consideration, and companies like Apple need to respect them.
How a Virtual Private Network can help
The Private Relay feature resembles a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It helps you bypass regional restrictions imposed on certain sites. It also helps you secure your privacy and protect yourself from cybercriminals and other trackers.
How does it do so?
A VPN encrypts the connection between your device and the internet. Thus, all internet traffic is rerouted and encrypted to prevent eavesdropping and tracking.
Many users use VPNs to protect their data from criminals and invasive tracking practices. It is a simple and effective solution for anyone wanting to preserve their privacy online.
Apple’s announcement has definitely given users a lot to be excited about. The update is scheduled for release in the fall. Thus, we still have to wait months for it to finally boost our iOS devices. Nevertheless, its significance is undeniable, and many security experts see it as a very clever addition. For now, users and experts are waiting for more news on the feature and hope to find out whether it will live up to our expectations.