Alongside iOS 15, Apple introduced an iCloud+ service that adds new features to its paid iCloud plans. One of these features is iCloud Private Relay, which is designed to encrypt all of the traffic leaving your device so no one can intercept it or read it.
According to Apple, “regulatory reasons” prevent the company from launching Private Relay in China, Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and the Philippines.
Apple mentioned these country limitations in June, but it seems that Private Relay will not be available in Russia either, after Apple apparently disabled the feature there over the last day or so.
Based on reports from Twitter users and as reported by iPhones.ru, the feature was previously available to use in Russia via beta versions of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, but now when they try to enable it, those same users are met with the message “Private Relay is not supported in this region.”
Private Relay works by sending web traffic to a server that is maintained by Apple to strip the IP address. Once IP info has been removed, Apple sends the traffic to a second server maintained by a third-party company that assigns a temporary IP address and then sends the traffic to its destination, a process that prevents your IP address, location, and browsing activity from being used to create a profile about you.
Involving an outside party in the relay system is an intentional move that Apple says was designed to prevent anyone, including Apple, from knowing a user’s identity and the website the user is visiting.
Why Apple has apparently disabled Private Relay in Russia only recently isn’t entirely clear, but the company has bowed to demands from the Russian authorities in the past, so there’s good reason to presume this is down to another regulatory issue.
iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, and tvOS 15 will be released on Monday, September 20.