That’s mostly because it involves an iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 feature that Apple has yet to roll out to the iPhone and iPad-owning masses in stable and final form. Still, the optics of T-Mobile’s apparent decision to block iCloud Private Relay, even in beta, are… not great. For those who may have missed Cupertino’s original announcement last year and the worrying news earlier today of a similar “ban” imposed by several European carriers, iCloud Private Relay is… still likely to sound familiar.
T-Mobile seems to be embroiled in more and more (unrelated) controversy with every killer new deal (for both new and existing subscribers) and major 5G breakthrough designed to further boost those already impressive customer numbers, raising serious concerns about everything from security issues to poor customer support. The latest possible disaster involving America’s fastest-growing wireless service provider isn’t nearly as significant for many people as last year’s massive data breach or the worryingly extensive network breakdown in 2020.
The VPN-like tool, which is obviously not enabled by default on any iPhones or iPads yet as Apple continues to run its rigorous beta tests, aims to protect your Safari browsing privacy by ensuring that no “single party can see both who you are and what sites you’re visiting.” That includes Apple itself, and of course, mobile network operators like T-Mo too, and while the Cupertino-based tech giant has no apparent interest in following your every online move, Magenta clearly doesn’t like to see such privacy-protecting capabilities baked into the OS running on some of the most popular devices out there.
It would certainly be nice if T-Mobile US cared to elaborate on that, with a relatively small but growing number of customers expressing their frustration at not being able to try out what looks like a potentially valuable tool for folks constantly worried about their online privacy.
We can probably expect the “Un-carrier” to claim this has nothing to do with any shady business going on behind the scenes, as the European carriers united against Apple insisted in their joint statement on the matter. T-Mobile happened to be one of the carriers taking a stand against iCloud Private Relay on the old continent too, vaguely arguing that said contentious feature can prevent networks and servers from accessing “vital network data and metadata”, potentially impacting the operators’ “ability to efficiently manage telecommunication networks.”
For what it’s worth, 9To5Mac reports Magenta’s iCloud Private Relay restrictions are still in the process of rolling out, so at least for the time being, some customers might be able to use the functionality unobstructed depending on their location, plan, device, and… proverbial luck.