Apple has defended its recent removal of apps from the App Store that compete with its own Screen Time app. Apple was responding to allegations made in a New York Times report over the weekend.
“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,” Apple said in a statement released Sunday.
Apple has removed or restricted 11 of the 17 top parental control or screen time tracking apps in the App Store, according to NYT, after launching its own Screen Time tracker app in September 2018. An Apple spokesperson told NYT the apps were removed or restricted because they gained access to too much information from user devices.
In its statement, Apple said it removed the apps because they used mobile device management (MDM) software, which Apple described as a “highly invasive 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,” the company said.
But, as the NYT report points out, Apple had approved hundreds of these apps prior to launching its own version. Apple claims it began investigating MDM software in 2017, and updated its App Store guidelines that year. It said it gave app developers that violated the rules 30 days to update their apps to meet the new guidelines. Those that didn’t were removed from the App Store.
According to the NYT article, Apple released its own Screen Time app a year later in 2018, and had begun removing or restricting other parent-control apps in its App Store afterwards.
“Contrary to what The New York Times reported over the weekend, this isn’t a matter of competition. It’s a matter of security,” Apple said.
So far, two of the parental-control apps, Kidslox and Qustodio, have filed complaints with the European Union’s competition office over Apple’s practices, NYT reports.