Apple responded to a recent New York Times report that it removed or restricted 11 of the 17 most downloaded parental control and screen-time apps and clamped down on others for what the company claims was a simple reason: “they put users’ privacy and security at risk.”
But rivals contend it was done for competitive purposes, since Apple launched its own Screen Time tools in September 2018, as part of iOS 12.
Now one of the companies whose app was removed, OurPact, is responding to Apple’s response. In a post on Medium, titled “There Used To Be An App For That,” OurPact claims Apple’s statement is misleading.
The issue surrounds what is known as Mobile Device Management technology, which Apple in its statement describes as “highly invasive” because it 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.”
While Apple added that MDM has some legitimate uses, it also said the tech is extremely risky and can be exploited by hackers for malicious purposes.
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OurPact countered that, “This stands in contradiction to the fact that MDM technology was initially developed by Apple to ensure security of private data on remotely managed devices.”
OurPact points to Apple’s own documentation, which states that MDM cannot see such personal data as emails, calendars, iMessages, device location, frequency of app use and more.
“To clarify this very important point,” the company wrote, “OurPact does not have access to any of this private information via MDM. It is impossible for us, hackers, or anybody else to obtain it. Apple is the only one who has access to and uses this data.”
OurPact went on to say that the sensitive information its own app collects – which includes a child’s name, age, gender, installed apps, and location – is the data it deems “absolutely necessary to provide our service,” and is only retained for “as short a period as possible.”
The company says it complies with all global data protection laws, including the stringent regulations that are in place in Europe.
What’s more, OurPact says its app had been approved by Apple 37 times, with documented use of MDM from its inception in 2015, until being suddenly removed in October of last year, with very little communication from Apple.
Even at that, in the post, OurPact expresses great respect for Apple and its stance on privacy.
“By choice, we would never be in the unfortunate position of telling one of the most beloved companies in the world that they have made a mistake, but sometimes the truth has to be spoken to power….Given that there are no privacy issues with properly vetted MDM apps like OurPact being on the App Store, we humbly request that we are reinstated and allowed to continue providing our million users with the service they love and depend on.”
USA TODAY has reached out to Apple and is awaiting a comment on the OurPact response.
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