T-Mobile stirs another controversy by blocking Apple's latest iPhone privacy tool for some users

T-Mobile stirs another controversy by blocking Apple's latest iPhone privacy tool for some users
UPDATE: After reports of iCloud Private Relay issues started spreading like (small) fires on social media and various forums, T-Mobile reached out to Ars Technica to highlight that the feature is in fact "not broadly blocked" for the "Un-carrier's" customers.

Instead, Magenta is simultaneously pointing the finger at content filtering and... Apple itself, claiming that users with functionalities like parental controls enabled on their accounts do not have access to iCloud Private Relay to allow said functionalities to "work as designed", while a mysterious iOS 15.2 bug "identified overnight" by T-Mo might be behind the troubles experienced by a separate group of people unable to use the latest iPhone privacy tool. 

The existence of the bug has yet to be confirmed by Apple, so be sure to keep an eye out for further developments on this front. Our original story follows below.


For every killer new deal (for both new and existing subscribers) and major 5G breakthrough designed to further boost those already impressive customer numbers, it seems like T-Mobile is finding itself embroiled in more and more (unrelated) controversy, raising serious concerns with everything from security issues to poor customer support.

The latest potential scandal surrounding the fastest-growing wireless service provider stateside certainly doesn't feel as meaningful for as many people as that absolutely colossal data breach from last year or the troublingly widespread network outage of 2020.

That's mostly because it involves an iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 feature that Apple has yet to roll out to the iPhone and iPad-owning masses in stable and final form. Still, the optics of T-Mobile's apparent decision to block iCloud Private Relay, even in beta, are... not great.

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For those who may have missed Cupertino's original announcement last year and the worrying news earlier today of a similar "ban" imposed by several European carriers, iCloud Private Relay is... still likely to sound familiar.

The VPN-like tool, which is obviously not enabled by default on any iPhones or iPads yet as Apple continues to run its rigorous beta tests, aims to protect your Safari browsing privacy by ensuring that no "single party can see both who you are and what sites you're visiting."

That includes Apple itself, and of course, mobile network operators like T-Mo too, and while the Cupertino-based tech giant has no apparent interest in following your every online move, Magenta clearly doesn't like to see such privacy-protecting capabilities baked into the OS running on some of the most popular devices out there.

We can probably expect the "Un-carrier" to claim this has nothing to do with any shady business going on behind the scenes, as the European carriers united against Apple insisted in their joint statement on the matter.

T-Mobile happened to be one of the carriers taking a stand against iCloud Private Relay on the old continent too, vaguely arguing that said contentious feature can prevent networks and servers from accessing "vital network data and metadata", potentially impacting the operators' "ability to efficiently manage telecommunication networks."

It would certainly be nice if T-Mobile US cared to elaborate on that, with a relatively small but growing number of customers expressing their frustration at not being able to try out what looks like a potentially valuable tool for folks constantly worried about their online privacy.

For what it's worth, 9To5Mac reports Magenta's iCloud Private Relay restrictions are still in the process of rolling out, so at least for the time being, some customers might be able to use the functionality unobstructed depending on their location, plan, device, and... proverbial luck.

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