Apple hit back at criticism Sunday, following a report it had removed a number of parental-control from the App Store. It said it had removed the apps over privacy and security concerns.
Parental Control Apps Using ‘Risky’ Technology
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.
Apple accepted that MDM technology does have some legitimate use cases. However, it insisted that “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.”
‘A Matter of Security’ Not Competition
Apple said it gave affected developers 30 days to submit an updated app. It explained that some developers provided appropriate updates, but others did not and were removed.
However, some developers cited in the original report claimed Apple had not given them sufficient support. One, Suren Ramasubbu, who ran popular parental control app Mobicip, said he repeatedly reached out to Apple. He explained the company simply kept telling him that his product used public A.P.I.s in an unapproved manner. Despite Mr. Ramasubbu asking again for clarity before the deadline, Apple removed the app from the App Store. Other developers said they had to remove key features from their products.
Some are linking the removal of parental control and screen lock apps to Apple developing its own product – Screen Time. However, Apple said “it isn’t a matter of competition. It’s a matter of security.”