Apple backtracks massively, allowing apps to use a technology it called 'highly invasive' just weeks ago

Business Insider US
Apple is widely expected to debut three new iPhones in 2019.

  • Apple is going to allow apps to use a type of technology it called "highly invasive" just weeks ago.
  • Apple could let screen time control apps use Mobile Device Management tech in some cases after removing them from the App Store earlier this year.
  • In a New York Times report at the time, the apps claimed they had been targeted after Apple released its own Screen Time feature. Apple denied the decision had anything to do with competition.
  • The CEO of one of the affected apps, Kidslox, told Business Insider the company has yet to hear anything from Apple about whether it will be allowed back on the App Store.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Apple has backtracked on a plan to ban apps that use a technology it described as "highly invasive".

In a blog post on Monday, Apple released a series of updates to its App Store review policies. Among the guidelines was an update on the use of Mobile Device Management, or MDM.

Previously Apple removed a handful of popular parental screen time control apps from the App Store on the basis that they were using MDM, which it said was overly invasive for a consumer app.

The story was reported by The New York Times in April, and the apps affected by the purge claimed that the move cynically coincided with Apple releasing its own Screen Time feature. Two of the apps - Kidslox and Qustodio - said they were submitting a complaint to the European Union. At the time, Apple said in a blog that removing the apps was nothing to do with quashing competition but a matter of security.

Read more: The DOJ will police Apple in the federal government's new tech antitrust push

Now, however, Apple says parental control apps will be allowed to use MDM, "in limited cases". Apple was not immediately available for comment when asked by Business Insider what particular cases would qualify. This comes less than a week after 17 parental control apps banded together to demand Apple publicly release its Screen Time API.

Kidslox CEO Viktor Yevpak told Business Insider in an email that the company has had no direct communications from Apple saying whether the app will be allowed back on the App Store.

"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," he wrote. Yevpak added that Kidslox will not be dropping its case against Apple, as it believes access to Apple's Screen Time API is the only way to ensure "equality in this space."

Apple's U-turn came hours after Reuters reported that the Department of Justice is considering launching an Apple antitrust investigation as part of a broader crackdown on big tech.

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