MDM and Privacy

by Volker Weber

Apple reacts to a NYT story with The facts about parental control apps:

Over the last year, we became aware that several of these parental control apps were using a highly invasive technology called Mobile Device Management, or MDM. MDM gives a third party control and access over a device and its most sensitive information including user location, app use, email accounts, camera permissions, and browsing history.

This is an interesting discussion. A few years ago I seeded the idea for a "Family MDM" solution. Let parents manage the devices of their children much the same way companies manage the devices of their employees. After all, this is just babysitting as well.

The ugly truth is that people need this kind of adult supervision, even the most intelligent ones. We just do stupid things like rooting Android devices or installing software from dubious sources. And while doing so, we think we are smarter than the average user. Dunning-Kruger effect at its best.

But as Apple rightfully states, MDM is a 'god mode' that itself needs checks and balances. Companies do that, most people would not even have the capacity.


In my opinion, the MDM Framework is a good tool for jobs like that, and the simpler MDM solutions like JamfNow or SimpleMDM could be used as a „family“ solution, but are still geared more towards small businesses than families.

Bye, Frido.

Fridolin Koch, 2019-04-30

Just to add some additional details. There are various flavours of iOS MDM. Depending on your MDM platform, you can have different levels of controls deployed to the devices under management. It is possibly to deploy MDM profiles with limited controls, e.g. only pushing a Wifi profile and no other controls over the devices enrolled on the MDM server. This way you can keep the user privacy and still provide useful functionality.

Abdelkader Boui, 2019-05-03

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