Apple boots MDM-abusing parental control apps

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Apple boots MDM-abusing parental control apps

Ends "risky and clear violation of App Store policies".

Apple has removed a range of parental control apps from its App Store, saying they jeopardised users privacy and security.

The removed apps used mobile device management (MDM), which can monitor everything that happens on a specific user's device.

MDM is used most commonly by enterprises to control staffers' access and use of proprietary data and to manage the devices themselves.

In a statement published today, Apple said it had removed the apps because of concerns that MDM use risked violating users' privacy and was unsafe in a consumer scenario.

"... it is incredibly risky—and a clear violation of App Store policies—for a private, consumer-focused app business to install MDM control over a customer’s device. Beyond the control that the app itself can exert over the user's device, research has shown that MDM profiles could be used by hackers to gain access for malicious purposes," Apple said.

Apple called MDM a "highly invasive technology" that gives third parties control over and access to devices. 

This included very sensitive information such as user location, app use, email accounts, camera permissions and browsing history," Apple said.

Using MDM in such a way is a violation of App Store policies that were updated in 2017 accordingly, Apple said.

According to Apple which provides a built-in app for its iOS mobile operating called Screen Time that can be used by parents to monitor childrens' device usage, developers were given 30 days to update their apps or have them removed.

Several developers updated their apps, but those didn't had their apps removed - Apple did not say which apps were removed however.

Apple said its decision to kick parental control apps that use MDM out of the App Store isn't an attempt at restricting competition, but a matter of security.

The company said there are many "tremendously successful" apps that offer similar functionality to Apple-provided programs, and added that it is committed to a competitive and innovative app ecosystem.

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