Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers the keynote speech during the 2020 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California.
Brooks Kraft / Apple Inc / Handout via Reuters
GUANGZHOU, China – Apple’s new feature designed to provide users with more privacy while surfing the Internet will not be available in China, one of the iPhone maker’s key markets.
Apple unveiled a new service called iCloud + at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday. One of the functions it contains is “Private Relay”.
When users browse the Internet with Safari, their data is sent through two separate servers to disguise the identity of the user and the websites they visit. As a result, even Apple or the user’s network provider cannot see this data.
It’s a bit like a virtual private network (VPN) where users can route their internet traffic through a server elsewhere in the world to mask their surfing activity.
China’s so-called Great Firewall enables authorities to effectively block access to websites within China, including Google and Facebook. VPNs are often used to bypass China’s strict internet controls.
An Apple spokesman told CNBC that Private Relay won’t work in China and some other countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Belarus and Uganda.
Apple stated that it cannot offer the feature in these countries due to local laws.
Using unauthorized VPNs to access blocked websites is illegal in China. While Apple’s Private Relay isn’t technically a VPN, it’s similar.
In 2017, the US tech giant removed a number of VPN services from its China App Store to comply with local regulations.