A new product feature Apple has developed to improve users' privacy will not be available in certain countries, including China.
The company announced Monday a new "private relay" feature, which has been designed to obscure a user's web browsing behavior from Apple, internet service providers, and advertisers.
Apple said the feature will not be available in China for regulatory reasons. Other countries where the feature will not appear include Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and the Philippines.
The "private relay" feature was one of a number of privacy protections Apple announced at its annual software developer conference, The Epoch Times reported.
The feature sends web traffic to an Apple-maintained server, which strips out the IP address. Apple then sends the traffic to a second server, maintained by a third party, which assigns the user a temporary IP address. The traffic is then sent to its destination website.
Apple said the use of a third party means "no single entity can identify both who a user is and which sites they visit,” according to the BBC.
Apple, which has been under pressure to cut down on the tracking of user data, has not said which third-party operators will be used in the system.
The "private relay" is expected to become available later this year.
Apple generates 15% of its overall revenue in China, according to the BBC.
In May, The New York Times reported that Apple stores data from its Chinese customers in servers owned by a state-owned company, potentially making it easy for the Communist government to gain access to the information.
The data deal, in response to a 2017 Chinese law, is one of several concessions to the government the iPhone maker has made over the past five years to do business in China, the Times said
Apple on Monday also announced several other new privacy features to be included in iOS 15, the latest iPhone operating system.
"We don't think you should have to make a trade-off between great features and privacy," Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said.
Users will be able to track which apps are collecting data, and some apps will hide IP addresses in order to block tracking.
"Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from learning whether an email has been opened, and hides IP addresses so senders can’t learn a user’s location or use it to build a profile on them," the company said.
Apple's new privacy features likely will hinder social media companies — such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter — that rely on customized advertising based on user data.
Cupertino, California-based Apple operates about 500 stores worldwide.
CNBC reported Monday that Apple could hit a $3 trillion market capitalization in 2022, according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives. The tech leader is the world’s most valuable company with a current market cap of around $2.1 trillion.
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