Parental control apps clap back at Apple statement on MDM technology

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 1
Parental control and screen time monitoring apps are fighting back against Apple's decision to strike the titles from the App Store over alleged security risks, saying in separate blog posts that the tech giant's reasoning is flawed and its statement on the matter misleading.

OurPact


One of the apps banned from distribution, OurPact, argued for its reinstatement in a post to Medium on Tuesday. As noted by CNET, which spotted the entry, OurPact also calls for Apple to allow parental control apps access to device management APIs.

Last week, a New York Times report highlighted Apple's targeted removal of popular apps created to help users cut down on device usage or monitor their children's screen time. Over the past year, the company pulled apps, sometimes without adequately notifying developers, or forced the removal of features that left titles stripped of key functionality.

Developers interviewed as part of the report implied the crackdown was prompted by Apple's release of a competing iOS feature called Screen Time which debuted in iOS 12 and includes a number of tools designed to encourage iPhone and iPad owners to spend less time on their devices. Screen Time also incorporates parental control features similar or identical to those offered by the now banned apps.

Responding to fallout from The Times article, Apple over the weekend issued a statement in an attempt to explain the app removals. According to Apple, the apps in question used "highly invasive" Mobile Device Management (MDM) technology to accomplish their advertised tasks and thus posed a risk to user privacy and security.

MDM allows wide access to device functions and potentially sensitive data, Apple said. The technology was designed for use in large-scale enterprise device deployments, not public-facing apps available on the App Store. As such, integration of MDM by screen monitoring and parental control apps was a violation of the company's App Store guidelines.

OurPact disagrees. In its blog post, the developer attempts to undermine Apple's statement by comparing it with official Apple support documentation on MDM technology. A point-by-point rebuttal suggests properly vetted MDM apps pose little to no risk to end users, even those offered through public channels.

"Unfortunately, Apple's statement is misleading and prevents a constructive conversation around the future of parental controls on iOS," the company said. "We want to take the opportunity to set the record straight about MDM for our loyal users and the many families looking for solutions to guide healthy digital habits. Our hope is that Apple will work with developers in this space so that families continue to have a wide selection of parental controls to choose from."

OurPact also includes a detailed timeline of events leading up to its dismissal from the App Store, noting four years of submission approvals before an abrupt removal in October 2018 "without any prior communication."

OurPact suggests Apple provide developers with open APIs if it "truly believes that parents should have tools to manage their children's device usage, and are committed to providing a competitive, innovative app ecosystem." The call for appropriate screen time monitoring and device management tools was echoed by other app makers mentioned in the original NYT report.

As noted by MacRumors on Wednesday, the co-founders of Kidslox and Qustodio in separate Medium posts asked Apple to release the APIs it used to create the iOS Screen Time feature.

Kidslox and Qustodio last week filed a joint complaint with the European Union's anti-competition office on allegations that Apple's forced changes had a negative impact on Kidslox's business.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,315member
    If they have a case then let them sue Apple and see. Looks to me like they’re just trying to pressure Apple through public opinion.
    macxpresschasmpscooter63
  • Reply 2 of 29
    ivanhivanh Posts: 381member
    Apple should prevent all IoT devices from collecting Wi-Fi passwords and registration and stop those Wi-Fi passwords be stored in China.
  • Reply 3 of 29
    If you want loosened controls, go Android.
    mwhitepscooter63magman1979
  • Reply 4 of 29
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,584member
    ivanh said:
    Apple should prevent all IoT devices from collecting Wi-Fi passwords and registration and stop those Wi-Fi passwords be stored in China.
    Are you commenting on the right story??
    mwhiteroundaboutnowflydog
  • Reply 5 of 29
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,979member
    ivanh said:
    Apple should prevent all IoT devices from collecting Wi-Fi passwords and registration and stop those Wi-Fi passwords be stored in China.
    What the hell does that have to do with anything?
    mwhiteflydogacheron2018magman1979
  • Reply 6 of 29
    leavingthebiggleavingthebigg Posts: 1,158member
    Is customer data being shared and/or sold?
  • Reply 7 of 29
    Heh, if you look up that MDM documentation, it’s clearly stated that MDM is targeted at managing devices you own or control. An app developer doesn’t meet that criteria.  The app developers should have known better especially considering they have been cracking down on MDM abuse with all apps.

    That being said, once Apple figures out how to handle privacy issues, they should open up the Screen Time API’s, but only if customer information is protected.
    stompygeorgie01n2itivguychasmradarthekatpscooter63magman1979
  • Reply 8 of 29
    designrdesignr Posts: 532member
    lkrupp said:

    Looks to me like they’re just trying to pressure Apple through public opinion.
    You say that like it's a bad thing.

    And like Apple doesn't do the same sort of thing.

    elijahgcjk91108stasi
  • Reply 9 of 29
    the monkthe monk Posts: 56member
    lkrupp said:
    If they have a case then let them sue Apple and see. Looks to me like they’re just trying to pressure Apple through public opinion.
    Well, uh, yeah, considering the number of cases before the courts and the amount of money small companies would have to spend to sue Apple. I'm not in favor of their position, but you cannot just use the usual, "then just sue them" as a simple way to negate a point of view. And public opinion is not a bad way to settle issues. I mean, why do we have the First Amendment and these forums?
    designrelijahgcjk91108
  • Reply 10 of 29
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,133moderator
    the monk said:
    lkrupp said:
    If they have a case then let them sue Apple and see. Looks to me like they’re just trying to pressure Apple through public opinion.
    Well, uh, yeah, considering the number of cases before the courts and the amount of money small companies would have to spend to sue Apple. I'm not in favor of their position, but you cannot just use the usual, "then just sue them" as a simple way to negate a point of view. And public opinion is not a bad way to settle issues. I mean, why do we have the First Amendment and these forums?
    Responsible public debate, yes.  Not deception by leaving out important points, like that MDM is specifically stated to be used in enterprise, not personal apps. 
    bloggerblogStrangeDaysjdb8167
  • Reply 11 of 29
    trashman69trashman69 Posts: 100member
    Ok man....AppleInsider....“clap back”  seriously?  

    What’s next “gonna throw some shade”? 


    redraider11StrangeDaysstompystasicrushedSpamSandwich
  • Reply 12 of 29
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 820member
    the monk said:
    I mean, why do we have the First Amendment
    First Amendment? Are the companies you are defending here based in the US? E.g., is Kaspersky Labs based in the US or Russia? Does the First Amendment or any US Constitutional Amendment cover or protect foreign companies? Are you really using the First Amendment of the US to defend companies that are based in communist nations to invade US citizens' privacy? To be honest I also have trouble with Apple using this logic to defend selling security products to hostile nations. I'm not even an American and I'm offended by your logic.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 13 of 29
    the monkthe monk Posts: 56member
    the monk said:
    I mean, why do we have the First Amendment
    First Amendment? Are the companies you are defending here based in the US? E.g., is Kaspersky Labs based in the US or Russia? Does the First Amendment or any US Constitutional Amendment cover or protect foreign companies? Are you really using the First Amendment of the US to defend companies that are based in communist nations to invade US citizens' privacy? To be honest I also have trouble with Apple using this logic to defend selling security products to hostile nations. I'm not even an American and I'm offended by your logic.
    Haha! What!?! First, I disagree with the companies on this issue and I said so. Reread. I was making the comment about the wasting money and time in the court system, when you should just take care of it in a few days in public discussion. 

    but hey, that’s alright, we all get into tirades. I know I’ve done it.
    designr
  • Reply 14 of 29
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,584member
    the monk said:
    the monk said:
    I mean, why do we have the First Amendment
    First Amendment? Are the companies you are defending here based in the US? E.g., is Kaspersky Labs based in the US or Russia? Does the First Amendment or any US Constitutional Amendment cover or protect foreign companies? Are you really using the First Amendment of the US to defend companies that are based in communist nations to invade US citizens' privacy? To be honest I also have trouble with Apple using this logic to defend selling security products to hostile nations. I'm not even an American and I'm offended by your logic.
    Haha! What!?! First, I disagree with the companies on this issue and I said so. Reread. I was making the comment about the wasting money and time in the court system, when you should just take care of it in a few days in public discussion. 

    but hey, that’s alright, we all get into tirades. I know I’ve done it.
    You don’t seem aware that the First Amendment is the protection of speech from the government. It has zilch to do with private platforms and developers for it. Absolutely nothing. 
  • Reply 15 of 29
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,584member
    Ok man....AppleInsider....“clap back”  seriously?  

    What’s next “gonna throw some shade”? 
    Yeah that left me scratching my head -- where they applauding? No that didn't seem right.. Had to look it up -- informal US slang, ex "she is not afraid to clap back at the haters". Yyyyeaaah probably not suitable for a publishing headline, which is formal.
    stasiacheron2018muthuk_vanalingamSpamSandwich
  • Reply 16 of 29
    Johan42Johan42 Posts: 163member
    Ok man....AppleInsider....“clap back”  seriously?  

    What’s next “gonna throw some shade”? 


    Who took a piss in your soup.
  • Reply 17 of 29
    stasistasi Posts: 2member
    Heh, if you look up that MDM documentation, it’s clearly stated that MDM is targeted at managing devices you own or control. An app developer doesn’t meet that criteria.  The app developers should have known better especially considering they have been cracking down on MDM abuse with all apps.

    That being said, once Apple figures out how to handle privacy issues, they should open up the Screen Time API’s, but only if customer information is protected.
    To answer your questions, you should read this article (quoted above actually):

    https://medium.com/@ourpactapp/there-used-to-be-an-app-for-that-41344f61fb6f

    In summary:  app developers use MDM because it's the only way to provide the service that parent's want (and are happy to pay for), and using MDM does not give access to mail accounts etc as falsely claimed by Apple's Phil Schiller.
  • Reply 18 of 29
    stasistasi Posts: 2member
    Johan42 said:
    Ok man....AppleInsider....“clap back”  seriously?  

    What’s next “gonna throw some shade”? 


    Who took a piss in your soup.
    Johan42 claps back by pissing in the soup.


    trashman69
  • Reply 19 of 29
    I agree wholeheartedly with Apple. This is just like the Facebook tracking app they signed with an enterprise certificate.  

    The complaint isn't that the vendors weren’t breaking the rules. It is that Apple in now enforcing the rules.  

    Its like Ike a burglar complaining because you finally got the lock on your front door fixed.  
  • Reply 20 of 29
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,658member
    I have MDM software on my work iPhone and the company makes it clear they have complete control over the phone if they like. However, they only have certain features turned on and I can see them in the MDM software installed on my phone. It says they have the ability to disable the phone and wipe it clean, what is not checked is the ability to take screen shots of the phone, download text messages, see photo stored on the phone, and a number of other things like access to contacts.

    Before anyone jumps on the oh the poor developers and big bad Apple band wagon, ask yourself if you buy software for supposedly protecting your kids, and the software is using the MDM API do you want them having access to your kids phones and the information they have on their phones. 

    The phone I use for work is owned by my company so they can pretty much do as they like and can invade my privacy as they see fit since they own the device. I really have no recourse and I have been warned even though they choose not to enable the more invasive features. The is not the case with a your privately own devices and do want back doors into your devices.

    If these companies are using the MDM API and they are crying about Apple shutting them down, too bad, yes they may not have enable complete control over the phone, by the fact they could is not good, and they step clearly over the line. Where is the outrage over these company, tweeter world should be coming down on these companies.
    edited May 2
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