Europe versus Apple’s Private Relay

L'Europa contro il Private Relay di Apple thumbnail

Recently, four telephony operators have contacted the European Commission stating that Apple’s Private Relay undermines “digital sovereignty” and which, therefore, should be suspended. For those unfamiliar with it, this is a VPN-like service – available for iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey -, which protects users from data disclosure precise about their position. In this way, it also prevents third-party companies from accessing user data. For now, it appears that Apple is not rolling out the feature in all countries. Yet European operators are moving to demand local exclusion.

Apple Private Relay: European operators against the service

It was August 2021 when T-Mobile, Orange, Vodafone e Telefonica have sent a communication to the European Commission. Together they reported that Apple’s Private Relay “will have significant consequences in terms of undermining Europe’s digital sovereignty. Furthermore, private forwarding will prevent others from innovating and competing in downstream digital markets, and could negatively impact the ability of operators to efficiently manage telecommunications networks. ” In short, the operators did not particularly like the service of the Cupertino company.

But what repercussions could all this have on Apple? The company may be prevented from implementing Private Relay if it is classified as a “digital gatekeeper” under the EU’s Digital Markets Act. Beyond this, it must be considered that the service is for the moment in a beta testing phase. Therefore with iOS 15.2 it is not activated by default, but it is not certain that it will not be once it passes the test phase. We therefore remain to see what will happen in the coming months.