Two app developers have filed complaints about Apple with the European Commission for abuse of power. The iPhone manufacturer would have forced several Parental Controls apps to remove features or even removed them altogether from the App Store.
A total of eleven of the seventeen most popular screen time and parental control apps in the App Store would have been removed or limited, wrote The New York Times last week. Two of these apps, Kidslox and Qustodio, have filed a complaint with the European Commission. Kidslox said its business has been getting worse since Apple forced them to make changes to the app, making it less useful than Apple’s own tool.
According to the U.S. newspaper, Apple forced companies to remove features that allowed parents to manage their children’s devices, or that blocked access to certain apps and content for adults. In other cases, the apps were simply removed from the store.
These actions would have started right after the announcement of Screen Time and tools to limit use in iOS 12 in September. Similar tools in the App Store were then removed or limited. The creators of the apps claim that this happened because of competition.
Apple itself denies those claims, writes ZDNet. According to the company, the apps in question have been deleted because they “endanger the privacy and security of users”. The main source of concern was the use of Mobile Device Management (MDM) software in some applications. MDM gives third parties remote control over a system, and can access information such as location data, app usage, browsing history and email accounts.
MDM is commonly found in spyware and stalkerware, but also in parental control applications and enterprise apps on enterprise devices. However, if users are not fully aware of this, it may be a security or privacy issue. Such a back door can also increase the risk of burglaries by hackers.
Apple states that the app developers had 30 days to update their apps to meet the guidelines of the App Store. Some developers did the same, others were removed from the App Store.
The Russian security company Kaspersky Lab filed a complaint with the Russian authorities earlier this month for the same reason. Kaspersky said that Apple has used its power over the App Store and the entire iOS ecosystem to force Kaspersky to remove two features from the Safe Kids app. These included the feature that allows parents to control which apps children can use and a feature that blocked the Safari browser.This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.