US DOJ reportedly questions third-party app makers as part of its Apple antitrust probe
The United States Justice Department has reportedly reached out to top app developers as it investigates Apple over potential anticompetitive behavior. Reuters reports that a “handful” of app developers have been contacted by the DOJ as part of this investigation.
Suren Ramasubbu, chief executive of Mobicip, told Reuters that he was interviewed by a U.S. investigator in November after his parental control app was removed from the App Store last year for a “failure to meet requirements imposed by Apple.”
The chief executive of developer Mobicip, Suren Ramasubbu, told Reuters he was interviewed in November by a U.S. investigator who asked about the company’s interactions with Apple. The app, which has nearly a million users worldwide, allows parents to control what their children see on their iPhones.
Today’s report centers on Screen Time, and the developers affected by Apple’s release of Screen Time. Ramasubbu was reportedly contacted by Apple at the start of 2019, when Apple warned him that the app violated “rules relating to technical elements that had previously been acceptable.”
Ultimately, Mobicip’s app was removed from the App Store in mid-2019, and later reinstated in October but the “company’s business has shrunk by half,” the report says.
In addition to Ramasubbu, however, investigators have reportedly reached out other app developers as well. It’s unclear if the DOJ has only reached out to developers of parental control applications, or if questioning has extended beyond that category.
Six executives of parental control app companies interviewed by Reuters said they had a comfortable relationship with Apple until mid-2018. That is when Apple introduced its own, similar software giving parents oversight of their children’s phone screen time and searches.
Parental control applications have been a controversial topic in the App Store over the last. Apple vigorously cracked down on them last year, citing potential security and privacy concerns. Last year, Apple walked back some of its stricter parental control app guidelines, but things are still more scrutinized than they used to be.
Apple pointed Reuters to its developer website, where the company says the App Store is designed to hold apps “to a high standard for privacy, security and content.”
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