Apple has responded to a New York Times report, claiming that it has removed various parental control apps from the App Store. Apple allegedly removed apps which offered similar features to its own Screen Time tool.
In response, Apple confirms that it did remove “several” such apps — but says that this was done due to privacy and security risks.
“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,” Apple writes. “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.”
Apple notes that there are legitimate reasons to use MDM on enterprise devices. However, this was not the case with these apps. In addition to exerting control over devices, MDM profiles can also be exploited maliciously by hackers. Apple continued that:
“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.”
Apple then argues that it wasn’t trying to avoid competition by removing the apps. It cites apps such as messaging tools, maps, email systems, photo-taking apps and more as examples that it doesn’t remove apps just because they offer something that Apple does.
Apple introduces its Screen Time feature with iOS 12. To find out more on Screen Time, check out our handy how-to guide here.