Apple Restores OurPact App After Privacy Row

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Parental control app restored to Apple’s App Store after it, along with others, were purged earlier this year

Apple has restored a parental control app called OurPact, after it pulled a number of parental control apps from its App Store earlier this year over privacy and security concerns.

In April it was revealed that Apple had removed or restricted at least 11 of the 17 most downloaded screen-time and parental-control apps.

After media reports of the purge emerged, Apple issued a rare public rebuttal when it insisted the move was nothing to do with removing competing apps against its Screen Time feature.

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OurPact App

News that the OurPact app was back on the Apple App store was revealed by the firm in question, in a blog posting.

“During a revision to the App Store guidelines, Apple removed all iOS screen time management solutions from the App Store,” wrote the company. “Yesterday, Apple’s Review Board reinstated our parent and child apps for installation – with no product or feature limitations – confirming OurPact’s adherence to Apple’s strict standards for quality and security.”

“We take this a positive sign that Apple is working in cooperation with us,” an OurPact spokeswoman told Reuters. “They realise device management solutions belong not only in the business world and in the classroom but in a family environment.”

When Apple took the action it had dismissed developers concerns that it was clamping down on companies that made rival services that Apple also offered.

“They yanked us out of the blue with no warning,” Amir Moussavian, chief executive of OurPact, the top parental-control iPhone app was quoted by the New York Times as saying back in April.

OurPact apparently had more than three million downloads, but in February, Apple reportedly pulled the app, which accounted for 80 percent of OurPact’s revenue, from its App Store.

“They are systematically killing the industry,” Moussavian said, after the NY Times reported that management at app makers feel they are being targeted because their apps could hurt Apple’s business.

But Apple took issue and said the removal was because the apps put users’ privacy and security at risk, as they used a “highly invasive technology called Mobile Device Management, or MDM.”

Store guidelines

It is reported that Apple updated its store guidelines in June, which meant that app developers now have to specifically request access to users’ private information.

OurPact allows parents to block and grant access to apps, receive notifications when kids download new apps, and parents can also use the app to remotely set other content controls.

Before its removal, Reuters reported OurPact as saying that it collected “very limited but standard anonymized” data for crash reports. The app has apparently been scaled back and has gained approval to use so-called mobile device management.

Of course Apple does periodically remove apps from its app store. Last August for example it removed illegal lottery apps from its App Store in China after criticism from state media outlets.

Apple is also embroiled in a very public row with Spotify, after the popular music streaming service filed an anti trust complaint and accused Apple of giving its own music streaming service a leg up over the competition on the App Store.

A second complaint concerned the large fees that Apple charges for all purchases via its app store.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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