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European operators go to war against Apple over privacy

Internet service providers have risen up against Apple’s Private Relay, a technology designed to protect users’ privacy, but which will prevent them from managing their network as they see fit.

European operators do not like Apple’s iCloud Private Relay service, and they are ready to fight to make their case heard. According to the newspaper The Telegraph, Orange, Vodafone, Telefonica and T-Mobile would have sent a joint letter to the European Commission in Brussels last August, to demand the withdrawal of the technology developed by Apple.

What is the private relay?

Presented last June on the occasion of WWCD 2021, the iCloud Private Relay service is currently available in certain European countries, via the iCloud + paid offer. According to the Cupertino company, it allows surf the internet anonymously. It is not really a VPN, but rather a tool, intended to hide the identity of an Internet user, so that no one – not even Apple or an Internet service provider – can monitor their. online activity. Concretely, this makes it possible to avoid advertising tracking, by passing all requests through two separate and secure Internet relays. The IP address registered by the operator therefore does not go further than up to the first relay generated by Apple, which takes care of encrypt recordings DNS.

This is where things are problematic for operators. For the four complainants, “The establishment of the private relay will have important consequences in terms of attacking European digital sovereignty”. In addition to no longer being able to properly manage their telecommunications networks, Orange, Vodafone, Telefonica and T-Mobile fear that Apple is preventing “Other networks and servers to access vital data and metadata, including those of operators in charge of connectivity”.

Operators expect Brussels to recognize Apple’s hegemonic position, so that the firm is classified “digital gatekeeper”, and potentially banned from its Private Relay.

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