Apple will start redirecting web traffic through two separate servers in order to obfuscate a user’s IP address, the company said at its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday.
The feature, called Private Relay, will act as a VPN of sorts, although VPNs generally only reroute traffic through a single hop. And, despite blocking internet service providers from seeing a user’s traffic, VPNs can still access browsing data themselves. (It’s a common misconception that VPNs inherently protect privacy, when all they do is mask your identity from others.)
Private Relay will be part of a new service called iCloud Plus. And will likely be available sometime this autumn. While it appears that the feature only applies to the web for now, there’s no reason it can’t eventually also be rolled out for apps – and it could be one way to curtail fingerprinting, a banned identification method Apple has yet to begin serious enforcement against on iOS.
Although IP addresses aren’t the only ingredient used in fingerprinting, they are one of the key signals.