Apple claims to have removed parental control apps from App Store over privacy concerns

Apple Monday defended the recent removal of multiple parental control apps from the App Store, saying it did so over privacy concerns.

“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,” according to a company statement.

The tech giant was responding to contentions in a New York Times report that it removed apps like OurPact and Freedom because they curbed iPhone usage and because they competed with Apple’s own Screen Time tracker. The report cited app maker executives who “believe they are being targeted because their apps could hurt Apple’s business” and who contend that Apple’s tools “aren’t as aggressive about limiting screen time and don’t provide as many options.”

But Apple said it cracked down on the apps after discovering over the past year they didn’t meet the company’s updated developer guidelines around what it calls “highly invasive” Mobile Device Management (MDM) technology.

“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,” Apple said.

Noting legitimate uses for MDM in enterprise devices, Apple said, “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,” maintaining that “research has shown that MDM profiles could be used by hackers to gain access for malicious purposes.”

Apple said it gave developers 30 days to comply with its guidelines and those that didn’t were removed.
Parents, the company said, “shouldn’t have to trade their fears of their children’s device usage for risks to privacy and security, and the App Store should not be a platform to force this choice.”

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