Apple’s iCloud Private Relay depends on “trusted partners” whom the company wouldn’t name when unveiling this privacy feature during WWDC21, but now we know who they are.
- iCloud Private Relay encrypts the URL in Safari
- This prevents anyone from seeing websites you visit
- These URLs are relayed to one of Apple’s trusted partner
- Trusted partners allegedly include Cloudflare and others
Apple’s trusted partners for iCloud Private Relay
When visiting a website in Safari, Apple’s new iCloud Private Relay feature encrypts the URL so that no one, not even Apple or your ISP, can track the websites you’re visiting.
The encrypted URL and your IP are then relayed to two separate third-party trusted partners. The first assigns you an anonymous IP address that maps to your region but not your actual location while the second decrypts the URL and forwards you to the destination website.
Apple would not say who the trusted partners are, but Dan Rayburn, writing for Streaming Media Blog, has been able to confirm that Akamai, Fastly and Cloudflare are being used.
Here’s an iCloud Private Relay description from the iOS 15 press release on Apple’s website.
Private Relay is a new internet privacy service that’s built right into iCloud, allowing users to connect to and browse the web in a more secure and private way. When browsing with Safari, Private Relay ensures all traffic leaving a user’s device is encrypted, so no one between the user and the website they are visiting can access and read it, not even Apple or the user’s network provider. All the user’s requests are then sent through two separate internet relays.
The first assigns the user an anonymous IP address that maps to their region but not their actual location. The second decrypts the web address they want to visit and forwards them to their destination. This separation of information protects the user’s privacy because no single entity can identify both who a user is and which sites they visit.
While this information is based on public details, Apple could be partnering with undisclosed companies on this feature. One name on this list isn’t surprising at all—Akamai. Apple has been using Akamai’s services for many years to power things like iTunes and movie trailers.