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Apple says iPhone privacy feature remains active amid battle with phone networks

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 (Getty Images)
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Apple has had to clarify that iCloud Private Relay had not been changed because of a dispute with mobile phone operators.

Some users had reported that the feature stopped working while they were on cellular connections.

Private Relay was introduced in iOS 15 and is in beta as a part of Apple’s iCloud+ subscription, and works similarly to a VPN.

The news comes after mobile phone operators urged regulators to make Apple ban the feature because it would stop them accessing data.

“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”, Apple told 9to5Mac.

“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.”

Apple iCloud+ subscribers can enable the feature in their iCloud Settings menu, and ensuring that the “Limit IP Address Tracking” option is enabled.

“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”, T-Mobile said in a statement, after it claimed a bug in Apple’s software caused the feature to be disabled.

Apple also changed the wording for its iCloud Private Relay feature in the iOS 15.3 beta to clarify that it is not because of lack of carrier support.

Before the change, the message read: "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."

However, as spotted by MacRumours, it now reads: "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."

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