Apple's new protections for kids could force PBS to pull its apps

Posted:
in iOS edited June 12
Paula Kerger, Public Broadcasting Company president and CEO, warns that the popular "PBS Kids" streaming app may be pulled from the App Store due to Apple's new privacy policies covering apps marketed to children.

Young girl using an iPad
Young girl using an iPad mini


Kerger aired concerns about the App Store in an interview at Recode's 2019 Code Conference on Tuesday, saying the guidelines will prevent PBS from accurately evaluating whether its content and game features are working. Further, the rules could hinder the broadcaster's ability to increase its apps' effectiveness as educational tools.

Apple recently announced plans to limit data sharing in apps marketed to children. Starting Sept. 3, apps in the kids section of the App Store will no longer be able to integrate third-party advertising or analytics software. They also will not be allowed to transmit in-app data to third parties.

While the change is meant to have a positive impact by protecting children, it seems some companies developing beneficial software might be affected as an unintended consequence. PBS, a non-profit organization, does not aim to make money from kids, Kerger explained.

"We'll have to pull down the apps, and we have millions of kids that are using our apps. So it's a challenge," she said. "We're not selling stuff to kids."

The PBS Kids streaming app has millions of users who would be negatively impacted should the app shutter. Kerger is reaching out to Apple in hopes of opening up a dialogue on how to best move forward. "Sit down and talk to us," she implored to Apple and other platform operators.

Apple officially announced the new changes coming to apps intended for children at its Worldwide Developer Conference at the beginning of June.

The company has faced scrutiny over its handling of third-party apps that market device monitoring and parental control features that seemingly compete with its own Screen Time feature in iOS. In April, a New York Times report highlighted what appeared to be the targeted removal of apps designed to help users limit the time they and their children spend using devices like iPhone and iPad. Apple contested the claim, saying apps were pulled for their overzealous application of potentially invasive MDM technology.

Following an outcry from developers, Apple eased up on restrictions pertaining to apps that rely on MDM and VPN tech. Still, in an update to its App Store Review Guidelines, the company maintains "apps may not sell, use, or disclose to third parties any data for any purpose."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    I am curious what part of the app is in violation of "...integrate third-party advertising or analytics software. They also will not be allowed to transmit in-app data to third-parties", and if it really needs to do that and should it have been there in the first place. Does the app need to do that? Think about the children! :) :)
    lolliverchasmloopychewjbdragon
  • Reply 2 of 34
    zklauszzklausz Posts: 18member
    I’d be willing to bet they are monetizing that data somehow with a third party.   PBS is woefully underfunded and always has to fund raise.  It’s not a stretch to believe that they’d look for anyway they could to bring in more $
    racerhomie3loopychewSpamSandwich
  • Reply 3 of 34
    It’s high time we stopped these predators
    berndog
  • Reply 4 of 34
    Both the commenters above probably aren’t aware at how dependent modern day apps and websites are on third party analytics and behavioral analytics software. Think simple ones like google analytics, mixpanel. More advanced ones like fullstory.

    for the most part these are not insidious money grubbing moves by pbs and actually are used by product teams to understand things like what features aren’t being used etc. 

    im hoping Apple isn’t just taking this blanket ban as a PR move and unreasonably taking this weird stance against these innocuous tools. 
    bala1234loopychewspice-boychaicka
  • Reply 5 of 34
    sergiozsergioz Posts: 273member
    It’s not the whole truth, there is more to the story! 
    chasm
  • Reply 6 of 34
    rivertriprivertrip Posts: 117member
    The app developer and PBS are not third parties, so why are the new restrictions a problem for PBS?
    n2itivguy
  • Reply 7 of 34
    It’s not terribly difficult to wire up an app that can provide insight into what is being used.  In PBS’s case, the fact that they are streaming content already gives them 100% insight on the back end to see what content is being accessed.  Very curious what wall they are seemingly up against.  Or their dev team is doing something sketchy and selling a line to upper management.
    n2itivguy
  • Reply 8 of 34
    NotsofastNotsofast Posts: 441member
    simbalion said:
    Both the commenters above probably aren’t aware at how dependent modern day apps and websites are on third party analytics and behavioral analytics software. Think simple ones like google analytics, mixpanel. More advanced ones like fullstory.

    for the most part these are not insidious money grubbing moves by pbs and actually are used by product teams to understand things like what features aren’t being used etc. 

    im hoping Apple isn’t just taking this blanket ban as a PR move and unreasonably taking this weird stance against these innocuous tools. 
    LOL. Google Analytics is a tracker that is placed on almost all web sites that captures your personal data about your web searches, clicks, etc.,cross site tracks you, and then sends that data back to Google for inclusion into your virtual dossier.
    chasmgenovellechaickaStrangeDayskurai
  • Reply 9 of 34
    sgordonsgordon Posts: 32member
    Well I’m going to side with apple here. Why is pbs collecting data without parental consent ?
    chasmn2itivguyentropysjbdragon
  • Reply 10 of 34
    Notsofast said:
    simbalion said:
    Both the commenters above probably aren’t aware at how dependent modern day apps and websites are on third party analytics and behavioral analytics software. Think simple ones like google analytics, mixpanel. More advanced ones like fullstory.

    for the most part these are not insidious money grubbing moves by pbs and actually are used by product teams to understand things like what features aren’t being used etc. 

    im hoping Apple isn’t just taking this blanket ban as a PR move and unreasonably taking this weird stance against these innocuous tools. 
    LOL. Google Analytics is a tracker that is placed on almost all web sites that captures your personal data about your web searches, clicks, etc.,cross site tracks you, and then sends that data back to Google for inclusion into your virtual dossier.
    It wasn’t the best example to use but my point still stands. Good or bad, modern tech organizations rely heavily on third party analytics and other tools. All these tools are now considered “third parties.”

    It might be “easy” to wire your own tools but those days are long past. I remember when we built all those kinds of tools in house ten years ago but the modern trend is that all those tools are basically outsourced to third parties. 


  • Reply 11 of 34
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,404member
    If PBS thinks they rely on whatever they would be not allowed to do in the future, they should be transparent about it, telling exactly what they need and what the precise terms are what happens with data collected. And all in plain, simple English. 
    n2itivguychaickablurpbleepbloop
  • Reply 12 of 34
    jgutherjguther Posts: 84member
    Lame excuses - if they cannot create apps that respect our kid's privacy, then we don't need them.

    n2itivguy
  • Reply 13 of 34
    sgordon said:
    Well I’m going to side with apple here. Why is pbs collecting data without parental consent ?
    Wait.  With absolutely no proof whatsoever, you're going to side with Apple -lemme make sure I got this right- because PBS is collecting data without parental consent?  Do me favor, walk me through the logic that lead you to that conclusion.  

    Just from a cursory reading of the article it's pretty clear PBS thinks they'll be in violation of the prohibition against app analytics.  Paraphrasing here, but she said "we won't be able to tell if our apps or working or be able to improve them"

    Absolutely nothing in the article implies PBS has done anything wrong yet you create a fiction from whole cloth just to side with Apple.  
    spice-boySpamSandwich
  • Reply 14 of 34
    jguther said:
    Lame excuses - if they cannot create apps that respect our kid's privacy, then we don't need them.

    What privacy do you think they'd be violating?  Unfocused rhetoric isn't really an effective tool of discussion.
  • Reply 15 of 34
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,893member
    Just from a cursory reading of the article it's pretty clear PBS thinks they'll be in violation of the prohibition against app analytics.  Paraphrasing here, but she said "we won't be able to tell if our apps or working or be able to improve them"

    Why do do they need analytics in the app to do that? The content is, after all, streamed from their servers. And the data there would tell them what, and who is accessing the stream/download.
    edited June 12 StrangeDays
  • Reply 16 of 34
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,025member
    sgordon said:
    Well I’m going to side with apple here. Why is pbs collecting data without parental consent ?
    Like pretty much everyone who reads AI regardless if Apple is wrong. 
  • Reply 17 of 34
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,028member
    simbalion said:
    Both the commenters above probably aren’t aware at how dependent modern day apps and websites are on third party analytics and behavioral analytics software. Think simple ones like google analytics, mixpanel. More advanced ones like fullstory.

    for the most part these are not insidious money grubbing moves by pbs and actually are used by product teams to understand things like what features aren’t being used etc. 

    im hoping Apple isn’t just taking this blanket ban as a PR move and unreasonably taking this weird stance against these innocuous tools. 

    The issue is about the path the data takes. I'm sure there are APIs out there for developers to analyze and monitor their user data themselves (perhaps Apple should write an API). What Apple wants to put an end to is developers using 3rd-party data analytic services, where the data is sent to that 3rd party and stats returned to the developer. At that point trust becomes an issue because the only relationship the user can control is between themself and the developer. Once user data is passed to an outside 3rd party, trust in the relationship cannot be maintained.

    On elf Apple's biggest talking points (features) is that their users can trust them to make sure their data is kept secure and private. Apple is pushing some of that onto their developers - they have to be able to, if Apple cannot trust the developer, there's no way an end user could.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 18 of 34
    entropys said:
    Just from a cursory reading of the article it's pretty clear PBS thinks they'll be in violation of the prohibition against app analytics.  Paraphrasing here, but she said "we won't be able to tell if our apps or working or be able to improve them"

    Why do do they need analytics in the app to do that? The content is, after all, streamed from their servers. 
    The same reasons any app needs analytics.  Which content is being viewed most often?  Which gets the least views?  What type of content is most popular?  How are videos most often chosen?  How deep into the menus to people go for content?  Do we get more engagement from vertical scrolling or horizontal?  What type of content has the most screen on time?  These are just a few examples.  I am sure an actual dev could come up with dozens more.  Point being, if you don't know what people like/dislike about your content it doesn't get improved.  Why do you think streaming apps like Netflix, Apple Music, Spotify, Youtube, etc. change their interface from time to time?  Analytics.
  • Reply 19 of 34
    delete pls
    edited June 12
  • Reply 20 of 34
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 186member
    Apple is looking out for everyone to protect our data. There is no need for any data to be sent to a 3rd party for any children's app. Rewrite your code to get the data you want and save it yourself.
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