T-Mobile said Tuesday that it had not blocked iCloud Private relay and that it had identified preventing some iPhone users from using the feature.
“Overnight, our team found that in the iOS 15.2 release, some device settings are set by default to the feature being disabled. We shared this with Apple. This is not specific to T-Mobile. But again, , we have not broadly blocked iCloud Private,” the company said told Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman.
iCloud Private Relay allows users to hide the websites they visit from third parties, according to a report by 9to5Mac. The VPN-like Private Relay hides your web activity from outside sources, including Apple and your carrier, and prevents anyone from identifying you or the sites you visit. It is currently available through an iCloud Plus subscription.
Private Relay is still in beta in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 and is not enabled by default. You have to go to your iPhone’s settings to turn it on, where some T-Mobile customers first saw the message above appear.
In reply to that tweet, shows the user what happens when you click the “Learn More” button below the first message – there Apple explains why T-Mobile may be blocking the feature. “Networks that require the ability to monitor traffic or perform network-based filtering will block access to Private Relay,” it reads. “Your mobile operator may offer network-based services, such as parental controls, which require them to watch the traffic on your network.”
According to The T-Mo Report, iCloud Private Relay conflicts with some T-Mobile services, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
According to 9to5Mac, iPhone users in Europe were the first to notice that access to the Private Relay feature was not working. T-Mobile, Vodafone and Telefonica have added their names to an open letter published in The Telegraph who criticizes the function. Carriers argue that Private Relay “will hinder others from innovating and competing in downstream digital markets and could negatively impact operators’ ability to efficiently manage telecommunications networks.”
Update January 11, 04:48 ET: Updated with extra reporting by The T-Mo Report.
Update January 11, 3:00 PM ET: Updated throughout with comments from T-Mobile on the cause of the problem.