Apple Defends Decision to Remove Parental Control Apps
The technology giant could be facing a series of lawsuits following its removal of parental control apps amid claims that it is stifling competition.
Apple has defended its decision to remove a host of parental control apps from its App Store, insisting that they breached the firm’s privacy and security rules.
App developers have hit out at the tech giant, claiming that the move will likely stifle competition and that Apple considers the apps to be a threat to its business model.
Reports in the New York Times show that 11 of the 17 most popular screen-time and parental control apps featured in the App Store have been restricted.
Two app developers, Kidslox and Qustodio, have filed complaints against the company with the European Union’s competition office.
Similarly, Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab is also preparing for an antitrust claim in the US, alleging that Apple has forced it to remove important features from its own parental control apps.
In a statement, Apple defended its decision to remove the apps and insisted that those in question used “highly invasive technology”.
The firm said: “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.”
Apple said that MDM technology could enable bad actors to bypass critical iOS security features and put users, particularly children and young people, at risk.
The company’s strict regulation of products featured in its store ensures that apps do not interfere with its iOS mobile operating system.
“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,” a spokesperson explained. “Several developers released updates to bring their apps in line with these policies. Those that didn’t were removed from the App Store.”
Apple strongly denied claims that the move was an attempt to stifle competition, insisting that it has “always supported” third-party apps that help parents manage children’s devices.
The controversy follows comments last week by chief executive Tim Cook, who said that Apple wanted to see customers spend less time on their devices.
“Apple never wanted to maximise user time,” he said. “We’re not motivated by this by a business point of view. Every time you pick up the phone, it means you are taking your eyes off the person you are dealing with.
“If you are looking at your phone more than you are looking at someone’s eyes you are doing the wrong thing.”