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Apple allows children to access apps intended for adults

An investigation by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) has found that Apple knowingly allows underage users to access adult-only apps despite having asked for and recorded their dates of birth.

TTP created a user account with a date of birth in February 2007 to evaluate how well Apple’s policies were applied. According to the investigation, there is a disconnect between what Apple knows about a user and how it polices age restrictions on its App Store.

The inquiry team gave a self-declared age of just 14, but they were able to download apps like “Eros: Hook Up & Adult Chat” and “KinkD: Kink, BDSM Dating Life” from the App Store, which were labelled as “17+” by Apple’s age-rating system. TTP says that when a minor user tries to download these apps, they are only given a pop-up notification asking them to “tap OK to confirm that you are 17 or over.”

TTP also found 37 adult-targeted apps that allowed underage users to sign in with their iCloud accounts and instantly access adult content.

“The investigation reveals major holes in the App Store’s child safety measures, showing how easy it is for young teens to access adult apps that offer dating, random chats, casual sex and gambling, even when Apple knows the user is a minor,” TTP said in its report.

“The results undermine Apple’s promise that its App store is a ‘safe place for kids’ and that it rejects apps that are ‘over the line – especially when it puts children at risk’. Taken together, these review failures create an ecosystem that is much more dangerous for minors than advertised,” it added.

The tech giant declined to comment on the report, but a spokesperson explained that using the company’s parental control features, parents can choose which apps their children can download, set how much time they can spend each day on specific apps and websites, and ensure they can only buy or download apps that are appropriate for them.

“Apple’s failure to protect kids from exploitation by allowing them to access casual sex and stranger-chat apps with impunity is unacceptable,” said Justin Ruben, the co-director of ParentsTogether, a parenting nonprofit.

“Rates of online enticement of children nearly doubled last year, and Apple’s unwillingness to keep kids off the riskiest apps gives predators a direct line to our kids,” he added.

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