Apple says it took the decision to remove a number of parental control apps from its store due to concerns about security and privacy, reports reveal.

The tech giant, which seldom issues a public reaction to media reports, decided to address news that the iPhone manufacturer was using its own tools to gain competitive advantage.

Recent reports in the New York Times said that Apple had withdrawn 11 of the 17 most used programmes designed to enable users to limit features or put a cap on kids’ screen time on their devices. It also said that Apple had taken the measures following the launch of its own Screen Time feature in 2018, which also helps users to place limits on iPhone and iPad functionality to keep kids’ device time in check.

The revelations awoke fears of underhand competition tactics, and two app designers allegedly issued formal complaints to the European Union.

In a 500-word statement on its website, Apple claims to have removed to apps due to concerns over user privacy and security. The company said the programmes undermined technology created for businesses called Mobile Device Management (MDM), which manages groups of devices for workers.

Apple said:

“MDM gives a third party control and access over a device and its most sensitive information including user location, app use, emails accounts, camera permissions and browsing history” in a “clear violation of App Store policies.”

The California-based firm said engineers were given 30 days to modify their apps and remove those that had not been amended.

“Contrary to what The New York Times reported over the weekend, this isn’t a matter of competition. It’s a matter of security,” Apple said in its post.

The statement backed up messages sent by Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing chief, to users over the weekend.