Apple's App Store 'rife with child safety problems,' claims report
What you need to know
- A new report has revealed flaws and loopholes in Apple's App Store.
- The Tech Transparency Project claims children can access apps that they shouldn't.
- TPP looked through 75 different apps on Apple's App Store.
A new report into Apple's App Store claims the platform is "rife" with child safety problems that include flimsy controls on age restrictions, letting children access adult-only apps.
According to the Tech Transparency Project:
The group used an Apple ID with the age set to 14, presumably with no parental controls turned on, testing nearly 80 apps limited to use by people 17 and older. The result? They found "that the underage user could easily evade age restrictions in the vast majority of cases." The report noted how some of the apps simply had a popup to confirm their age, but that all a child had to do was click "OK" and they were allowed access, even though the Apple ID was associated with a fourteen-year-old:
The report also picked out "broader flaws and inconsistencies" in child safety:
TPP says the findings "strongly suggest" Apple doesn't share user age data with the apps in its App Store. The report also noted how some apps have 17+ ratings but that their functionality doesn't match this:
The report further claims that some apps tested "appeared to be designed to minimize the possibility of learning a user is underage", such as Grindr, which told the 14-year-old user to "come back later" when they entered their "true" DOB, letting them enter an 18-year old birthday straight away.
Apple's Parental Controls work across devices like the iPhone 12, as well as iPod and iPad, and let parents restrict their children's access to Safari, Camera, FaceTime, Siri, Airdrop, Carplay, iTunes, the App Store, and more. Parents have access to a vast array of tools that can protect their children from explicit content in Music, Podcasts & News, Movies, TV Shows, and Apps. Parents can even prevent their children from installing or deleting apps, as well as stop in-app purchases. The former controls would obviously mitigate all of TPP's aforementioned findings, as a child under the age of 17 would not have been able to download any of the aforementioned apps without permission if parental controls were turned on.
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9