In just a few weeks, students will return to university and will certainly want to take advantage of the wide range of resources available through their university library. These same students might return to campus with a new MacBook, or another Apple device.
Many library resources can be accessed directly on campus, without the need to login. The publisher recognizes the campus IP and grants access, but Apple promotes a new features, which might mean that this will no longer work for Apple users.
Users of iCloud+ might have Private Relay [see Apple.com for details] enabled and subsequently will find themselves without access, despite being logged in to the campus network.
If your library offers a remote access solution, such as EZProxy, students may access library resources through that solution, even when on campus. Open Access Helper is here to assist, of course.
What is Private Relay?
Private Relay was designed by Apple to enhance user privacy, by hiding the user’s actual IP Address, when surfing the web with Safari. As many websites rely on IP geolocation to show appropriate content, Apple will attempt to assign users to a server in the general area of their actual location, but it will not be a campus IP at all.
Why does this affect access to publisher websites?
Libraries usually provide their university’s entire IP address range to publishers to enable smooth access. If Private Relay is in use, a completely different IP address appears and publishers are no longer able to automatically recognizes library patrons.
Are there workarounds?
If you do not offer a remote access solution, your patrons can temporarily disable Private Relay in Safari. To do this select View > Reload and Show IP Address from the Safari menu bar.
A dialog will be shown to make sure that the users really wishes to show their real IP to the website and after confirming this, the user should be able to access the publisher content. However, this might not be enough and users might need to disable the feature entirely (see end of post) for a day.
Is this a Mac-only problem?
Private Relay is also available for iPad & iPhone.
Does this affect all browsers on macOS?
Currently this feature is only supported by Safari and only for users who have purchased a paid iCloud plan from Apple. The settings are not enabled by default, so your patrons must have specifically selected this feature for it to become a concern.
It is understood that Google Chrome & Firefox will offer similar features in the not too distant future.
Can this feature be disabled?
In System Settings > iCloud Settings > iCloud + > Private Relay this feature may be disabled, either for a day or completely. The feature itself is a net positive for users, so consider to guide them to the appropriate option.