Apple recently made changes to the way it treats apps in the Kids category, requiring that developers remove any 3rd party technologies that can access any user data, even anonymized information. They later amended this requirement to permit a handful of analytics services that had specific technologies in place to insure that user data is fully anonymized and untraceable to specific users. Those are the only data services Animal Jam uses anyway, so we believe we are in compliance with this requirement.
However, Apple rejected the latest Animal Jam build for violating this requirement, and for two weeks we’ve submitted new builds almost daily, trying to determine the reason they were rejecting them. Each attempt has been rejected without explanation, despite repeated pleas from our team for guidance on why our builds are being rejected and how to comply with their requirements. Knowing there is no technical violation of the Apple rules in the game, we’ve assumed every day that the latest build will go through and consequently we held off on making a more detailed statement to the community. That was a mistake, and we apologize.
We have been as frustrated as you with the situation. Animal Jam has always been an industry benchmark in its compliance with children’s data protection regulations, exceeding the regulatory requirements in most areas. We applaud Apple’s efforts to crack down on improper use of children’s data to track and sell users’ information. Yesterday, for the first time, we received a sliver of guidance from their review team indicating the reason for the rejections. It’s a very quick fix, unrelated to the game code itself. We are working feverishly to submit a new build today with the change Apple requires, and it will finally release as soon as they approve it.
We will continue our efforts until the problem is solved, and we will let you know as soon as the update is approved or we have more information.