Apple recently came under fire for removing tools from the app store that were pitched as solutions for parents wanting to monitor their children’s screen time. Critics were quick to claim that the company wanted kids on their devices as much as possible in order to indoctrinate them into mobile device usage. But the truth is far more sinister.
In a statement, Apple has said that they removed a number of screen monitoring apps from the app store because they were using Apple’s MDM, or Mobile Device Management platform. This is a tool that has only been available to developers since 2017 and is designed to be used by businesses that need to monitor employee usage when the devices are owned by the business itself.
But in the case of monitoring apps, the ‘business’ in question is the app itself. Part of accepting the usage of MDM is allowing the app to control and access device’s user location, app usage, email accounts, camera permissions and browsing history. This – obviously – is a massive privacy issue and something that Apple could not accept. It gave a number of developers a period of time to bring themselves in line with expectations and removed those that didn’t from the App Store.
But what about apps from other sources?
It’s chilling to think of the access that many users have offered these seemingly innocent products and many will be concerned as to what has already happened with their information. No doubt, criminal elements will look upon this as an opportunity to do harm, especially as the issue of screentime is such a big one at the moment.
As always, it’s important to pay close attention to the permissions you are giving to any app or company and make sure the product you are using, does the thing you want it to do – and nothing more.