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Photo: Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Image

Apple insists that a crackdown on apps designed to help parents manage their kids' screen time is about security and privacy rather than an effort to stamp out competition.

Driving the news: The iPhone maker's defense follows a New York Times report that 11 of the top 17 parental control apps in the Apple App Store had been removed or restricted in the past year.

  • With iOS 12, which arrived last fall, Apple added Screen Time, a feature that tells users how much time they are spending on various apps and allows parents to set detailed time limits for their children.
  • Managing and limiting screen time has emerged as a top issue for parents.

What they're saying: "We recently removed several parental control apps from the App Store, and we did it for a simple reason: they put users' privacy and security at risk," the company said in a statement on Sunday.

  • Apple said that the removed apps, unlike several that remain, are able to monitor and control app usage by misusing a mobile device management feature.
  • The feature is one that Apple created to let businesses restrict which apps are installed on devices they own or control, but Apple says consumer app makers are prohibited from using it.

The big picture: Apple is facing complaints on several fronts that it makes life hard for developers.

  • Spotify, for example, says third party music apps have to play by rules that are different from Apple's own music service.

Yes, but: In this debate, Apple isn't helped by its history of enforcing rules that make it harder to offer apps that compete with features in its operating systems. And several makers of the removed apps told NYT that Apple's motives are less than pure...

  • Fred Stutzman, CEO of Freedom, asked, "Can you really trust that Apple wants people to spend less time on their phones?"
  • Amir Moussavian, CEO of OurPact, said, "They are systematically killing the industry."

The other side: Apple keeps a tighter hold over its app ecosystem than Google does with Android. And Android developers have far deeper access to the operating system, for better — and worse.

  • That leaves more options for developing screen time trackers and other types of software.
  • It also leaves users open to more types of security and privacy threats.

Go deeper: World Health Organization says babies shouldn't look at screens

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

The bomb cyclone and atmospheric river seen via satellite on Sunday. The center of the storm is at the middle of the comma shape, due west of Washington State. (CIRA/RAMMB)

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (left) and Sen. Joe Manchin at the U.S. Capitol in 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.