Following Phil Schiller’s detailed reply on why Apple removed third-party parental control apps from the App Store, the company has now issued a public statement regarding this.
The statement is very much similar to what Phil Schiller said in his email. Apple removed many third-party parental apps because they posed a risk to the privacy and security of children and the company was not comfortable with this. Most parental apps relied on Mobile Device Management (MDM) to offer an elaborate set of features which are not found even in Apple’s own Screen Time.
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. It’s important to understand why and how this happened.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 notes that when it first became aware of such violations from developers, it gave them 30 days to submit updated apps with all issues sorted. While many of the developers complied, others did not and Apple ultimately ended up removing their app from the App Store.
I don’t think Apple is painting a clear picture here. Sure, the company might have emailed developers asking them to remove certain features from their apps but as the original report from New York Times claimed, no one from Apple actually replied to the emails from these developers asking for further assistance. That’s a failure on Apple’s part here and its an aspect that needs to be highlighted.