Last year, Apple href = “https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/05/apple-puts-third-party-screen-time-apps-on-notice/”> removed a lot of screen time and parental control of applications from its App Store, shortly after the company released its own first-party time solution on the iOS 12 launch screen. At today’s antitrust hearing, Apple CEO Tim Cook was questioned due to the anti-competitive implications.
Shortly after Apple debuted its own set of Screen Time features, several third-party application developers suddenly saw that their own screen time solutions were under the increased control of the App Store. Many apps also rejected or updated app updates. The developers concerned used a variety of methods to track the time on the screen, as there were no official means to do so. This included the use of background location, VPN, and MDM-based solutions, and sometimes a combination of methods.
Apple defended its decision at the time, saying the removal threatened users̵7; privacy and security by requiring access to device location, application use, email accounts, camera permissions, and more.
However, lawmakers have challenged Apple’s decision that they suddenly appear to be concerned about user privacy threats posed by these applications – many of which have been on the market for years.
Rep. Lucy McBath (GA-D) began questioning an e-mail from her mother who wrote to Apple about her disappointment at removing the apps, saying that Apple’s move “limited consumer access to much-needed services to keep children safe and secure.” protect their mental health and well-being. “Then she asked why Apple removed applications from the competition shortly after the release of its own time solution on the screen.
Cook responded in the same way as Apple last year, saying the company was concerned about “children’s privacy and safety” and that the technology used by applications was problematic.
“The technology used at the time was called MDM and had the ability to take over a child’s screen a bit and be seen by a third party,” Cook said. “So we were worried about their safety.”
This is probably not the most accurate description of how MDM works, because it describes MDM as some insidious remote control tool. In fact, MDM technology has a legitimate use in the mobile ecosystem and continues to be used today. However, it was designed for business use – for example, for fleet management of employee facilities, for example, not for consumer phones. MDMs have access to device location, control application usage, e-mail, and set various permissions, including what a business entity may want to do as part of its efforts to secure employee facilities.
That’s why it made sense to parents who wanted to similarly control and lock their baby iPhones. Although not consumer technology, application developers have seen a hole in the market and found a way to fill it with the tools at their disposal. This is how the market works.
However, Apple’s argument is incorrect. The way applications used MDM posed a privacy risk. However, instead of directly banning applications, it should offer them an alternative. This means that instead of introducing its competitors, in addition to a consumer-oriented product, it should also create development APIs for its iOS screen time solution.
Such an API could allow developers to build applications that could take advantage of Apple’s on-screen time and parental controls. Apple could give applications a deadline to transition instead of closing their business. This would not harm developers or their end users and address privacy concerns related to third-party applications.
“The timing of the download seems very random,” McBath said. “If Apple wasn’t trying to harm the competition to help its own app, why does Phil Schiller, who runs the App Store, promote Screen Time to customers who have complained about removing competing parental control apps?” He asked.
Cook replied that there are more than 30 apps on screen time in the App Store today, so there is a “live parental control contest.”
However, McBath noted that some banned apps were released to the App Store six months later, without any significant privacy changes.
“Six months is truly an eternity for the eternity of small businesses. It’s even worse if the whole competitor is in fact still taking customers away, “she said.
Tim Cook was not given a chance to further answer this question when McBath continued to question Apple’s refusal to allow Random House a way to sell e-books in its own application outside of Apple’s iBooks.
Cook diverted the question, saying that “there are many reasons why an application doesn’t have to go through the application store first,” noting that this may have been a technical issue.