According to a study, Apple’s child protection functions in the App Store and Apple ID have “big holes”: According to the Tech Transparency Project, it was easily possible to use the Apple ID of a fictitious 14-year-old to secure adult dating, chat and gambling. Downloading apps from the App Store, logging in and gaining access to non-age-appropriate content – including pornography.
iOS parental controls inactive by default
For this purpose, the organization checked a total of 75 apps from the US app store, some of which came from the list of the most popular apps in the social networks and lifestyle categories. Apple’s built-in iOS parental control functions were deliberately not activated: The “restrictions” are switched off by default, so the rationale of the Tech Transparency Project. Most of the parents do not activate such functions.
To download adult apps from the App Store, it is sufficient to confirm the prompt displayed by Apple that you are over 17 years old. Apple does not prevent downloading, although the iPhone manufacturer knows from the date of birth stored for the Apple ID that the user is a teenager, as the Tech Transparency Project explains. Apple passed the responsibility for the protection of minors through to the app provider.
Registration with Teenie Apple ID possible
However, if an adult app also allows registration via Apple ID, this is also possible without hindrance with the Apple ID of a 14-year-old – for example with popular dating apps such as Tinder, but also apps such as “HOO – Adult Hook Up & Friend” Finder “and” Hahanono – Chat & Get Naughty “. With other apps, the user can simply set his or her age when creating an account. If the fictitious teenager used a Facebook account instead of his Apple ID to log in, the creation of an account was blocked in the vast majority of the tested cases, according to the analysis.
Apple is not living up to its promise that the App Store is a safe place for children, the organization concludes. Parents should keep this in mind and, if necessary, set up the content restrictions on their children’s devices, which can be found in the iOS settings under “Screen time”. As a justification for the app store compulsion on iPhones and iPads, Apple usually also refers to security and protection of minors – this is no longer guaranteed with free app distribution.