What Apple Says About Removing Parental Control Apps

Apple has recently removed some third-party apps from the App Store that offered screen time monitoring services. These apps allow parents to keep track of their children’s smartphone usage and also help parents to enforce parental control on the use of various applications.

Apple removed some of these type of apps claiming that these apps pose a security as well as privacy threat for the users as the apps, using MDM or mobile device management technology, gives unwarranted access to the device, user location and private data to the third party app developers.

However, it was claimed by many reports as well as some of the screen time app developers, that Apple did remove the apps to throttle competition as Apple itself has a similar app and the third party apps offer better functionality that the Apple one.

Apple, however, claimed that these allegations are untrue and it has its own logic to defend that.

“We recently removed several parental control apps from the App Store, and we did it for a simple reason: they put users’ privacy and security at risk. It’s important to understand why and how this happened,” said Apple in a statement. “Contrary to what The New York Times reported over the weekend, this isn’t a matter of competition. It’s a matter of security.”

It explains :

Over the last year, we became aware that several of these parental control apps were using a highly invasive technology called Mobile Device Management, or MDM. MDM gives a third party control and access over a device and its most sensitive information including user location, app use, email accounts, camera permissions, and browsing history. We started exploring this use of MDM by non-enterprise developers back in early 2017 and updated our guidelines based on that work in mid-2017.
MDM does have legitimate uses. Businesses will sometimes install MDM on enterprise devices to keep better control over proprietary data and hardware. But it is incredibly risky—and a clear violation of App Store policies—for a private, consumer-focused app business to install MDM control over a customer’s device. Beyond the control that the app itself can exert over the user’s device, research has shown that MDM profiles could be used by hackers to gain access for malicious purposes.
Some of the app developers say removal of the apps were arbitrary and came without any warning.
“They yanked us out of the blue with no warning,” Amir Moussavian, CEO of OurPact, the top parental-control iPhone app, was quoted as saying, reports The Hindu.
Apple, however, refutes these allegations and says developers were given ample time to adhere to its App Store guidelines.
“When we found out about these guideline violations, we communicated these violations to the app developers, giving them 30 days to submit an updated app to avoid availability interruption in the App Store. Several developers released updates to bring their apps in line with these policies. Those that didn’t were removed from the App Store,” the iPhone maker added in the statement.
Apple said it’s not against competition and, in fact, is always there for good third party apps.
Apple has always supported third-party apps on the App Store that help parents manage their kids’ devices. In this app category, and in every category, we are committed to providing a competitive, innovative app ecosystem. There are many tremendously successful apps that offer functions and services similar to Apple’s in categories like messaging, maps, email, music, web browsers, photos, note-taking apps, contact managers and payment systems, just to name a few. We are committed to offering a place for these apps to thrive as they improve the user experience for everyone,” it added.

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