Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has always been lauded for the continual and consistent focus on the privacy matters over the years. However, things seem to be changing recently. Apple has just issued updates on a technology that was claimed to be ‘highly invasive‘ by none other than the company itself! The technology in question, MDM, was branded ‘highly invasive’ by Apple and then the apps using this technology were removed from the App Store.
Then, what brought about this drastic change in Apple’s stance?
Apple Apps And MDM: The original motive
MDM stands for Mobile Device Management. This technology was majorly used in monitoring apps such as parental screen time control apps. Originally, when Apple had branded MDM to be invasive, some of the parental control apps were removed from the App Store. It even had a blog post where it clarified that its decision to remove the apps had nothing to do with anything except the matters of safety for its consumers. However, not all of the removed apps felt the same about them. Two of the apps – Kidslox and Qustodio – said that they were going to complain to the European Union about this. Why? This is because of a simple observation on their part and on the part of a few other similar apps. The removal of these apps strangely coincided with the release of Apple’s very own ScreenTime feature, which operates in the same domain more-or-less.
It was last week that about 17 of these parental control apps came forward in a campaign to demand Apple to release its ScreenTime API publicly. They even made a website to reinforce this so as to allow third-party apps similar functionalities as of iOS 12’s ScreenTime.
Apple’s change in stance
Apple’s inclusion of MDM updates in its App Store review policies has many implications. Has the company changed its mind regarding the removal of parental control apps? Kidslox CEO Viktor Yevpak had this to say regarding the matter:-
“We assume we would be allowed back in the store with updates based on the dev guidelines that we saw. We will try in the next week or so and will know for sure.”
Is Apple really going to allow these apps, which it removed only a month back, back on the App Store, or does it have something else in mind? The updates regarding the MDM technology may also point towards the fact that Apple may be planning to use the same in its own ScreenTime feature. So as to prevent a backlash, the company may even go on to allow the removed apps back in the App Store. It can also explain the massive backtracking on the part of the whole company. However, this is all speculation at the moment.
This is not the first time Apple has been accused of having breachy privacy policies. It was only a few months back that it was accused of allowing popular apps to record the way a user interacts with them, without the knowledge of the user himself. With the Department of Justice planning to launch an anti-trust investigation on Apple, the Cupertino giant might do well by avoiding making such controversial claims, decisions and change of stances.