Apple’s planned debut of a new privacy feature for its devices will not be making its way to Communist China. Dubbed the “Privacy Relay,” the feature was showcased at the recent Apple Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, and allows users to hide their browsing data and protect their data privacy from being accessed by malicious actors.
The feature, designed to be similar to a VPN (virtual private network), allows users to mask their location and personal data through relays that Apple itself is unable to track — at least in theory.
Set for release this fall, the feature will obscure a user’s web browsing behavior from internet service providers and advertisers — but not for those residing in China, where the feature runs afoul of China’s regulatory laws.
Reuters reports, “The feature was one of a number of privacy protections Apple announced at its annual software developer conference on Monday, the latest in a years-long effort by the company to cut down on the tracking of its users by advertisers and other third parties.”
In addition to China, other authoritarian regimes with similarly strict regulations against data privacy will also be prohibiting the feature. The Verge reports that these countries include Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Uganda and the Philippines.
Despite the features being disabled in multiple countries, Apple claims that it remains committed to both “human rights” and “privacy” in its declaration called “Our Commitment to Human Rights,” which claims that the company “feel a deep sense of responsibility to make technology for people that respects their human rights, empowers them with useful tools and information, and enhances their overall quality of life.”
“We build privacy protections into everything we make — from products like iPhone, to services like Apple Pay, to our comprehensive review process for every app on the App Store,” the document states. “Hand in hand with the privacy of our users is our commitment to freedom of information and expression. Our products help our customers communicate, learn, express their creativity, and exercise their ingenuity. We believe in the critical importance of an open society in which information flows freely, and we’re convinced the best way we can continue to promote openness is to remain engaged, even where we may disagree with a country’s laws.”
It would seem that Apple’s commitment to data privacy and individual freedom do not extend into the borders of authoritarian regimes, where Apple continues to do business.