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Hot on the heels of a New York Times report that Apple is cracking down on parental control apps, the company has issued a public statement over the issue.
The company says that it “became aware” that these applications were abusing Mobile Device Management (MDM) technology to spy on everything that happens on both the user’s device and the devices that their family members use.
MDM technology was originally developed to help enterprise users manage their business-owned devices, and using it to monitor private devices raised security and privacy concerns, Apple said – which is why it already addressed the issue in its App Store review guidelines nearly two years ago.
According to the company, it gave developers who used MDM 30 days to modify their apps before removing them. A number of developers updated their apps, and those who failed to do so had their apps removed. The statement continues: “Parents shouldn’t have to trade their fears of their children’s device usage for risks to privacy and security.”
In this weekend’s report, Apple also denies that its decision amounted to anti-competitive behavior, insisting that it was a security issue.
Despite Apple’s insistence that competition played no role here, the timing of its decision is rather strange. It started the crackdown not long after introducing its own Screen Time feature in iOS 12 about seven months ago, at a time when many of the parental control apps had been using MDM for years.
The New York Times quoted various developers who were very frustrated with Apple’s decision. They listed various attempts to get clarity on precisely what changes Apple wanted them to make to their apps, but Apple’s support desk either failed to reply or offered vague and/or unhelpful responses.