Telephone operators against Apple’s new tool.

13 January, 2022

Apple’s iPhones are surely the safest devices due to their restrictions concerning apps and tracking. The last point is precisely where there is a conflict between telephone operators and Cupertino’s company.

Apple’s privacy tool in iOS 15.

One of the news of the launch of the operating system for iOS 15 last year was one of the most relevant tools in terms of privacy: Private Relay. Thanks to its main feature, tracking the user’s activity, knowing their real location and, therefore, creating a ‘business profile’ of the user is impossible, even for Apple.

Telephone operators against Apple’s new tool.

How does this tool affect to operators?

This tool directly affects telephone operators since it prevents them from tracking user browsing. According to The Telegraph, operators, especially and more technically, state that it ‘blocks the access to data supporting their networks and services to protect users from harmful material online’.

Operators’ join letter.

Last summer, Vodafone, Telefónica, Orange and T-Mobile signed a joint letter addressed to the European Commission where they stated: ‘Private Relay aims to improve user’s privacy when they are connected and surfing the Internet by encoding and redirecting traffic… thus preventing other networks and servers from accessing crucial data and metadata on the Net, including operators responsible for connectivity’.

Why now?

Apple was expected to be classified as a ‘digital guardian’ according to the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on contestable and fair markets in the digital sector (Digital Markets Act), which in short would prevent the implementation of Private Relay.

Since the Digital Markets Act will enter into force next year (at the earliest) due to some delays, the signers of the joint letter now resume their complaint/claim before the European Commission, which has not said anything in this regard.

Reactions beyond Europe and of other telephone companies.

Outside the European Union, in the United Kingdom, for instance, some operators have also expressed their concerns with regard to this matter.

Furthermore, some companies have chosen the quick way by blocking Apple’s privacy tool for their subscribers, like T-Mobile in the United States and the United Kingdom.

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