Kaspersky Lab files antitrust complaint against Apple in Russia

Another day, another lawsuit. Despite a long history of working with the tech giant, Kaspersky Lab, a global security company, has filed a complaint against Apple Inc. with the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of Russia regarding Apple’s policy on apps distributed through the App Store. 

The FAS is the federal-level executive governmental organ that controls the execution of the antitrust law and related areas. In 2018, Kasper Labs received a notice from Apple saying that the  Kaspersky Safe Kids for iOS app didn’t meet the requirements of guidelines for apps hosted in the App Store despite the app having been hosted in the App Store for nearly three years.

According to Apple, the use of configuration profiles was against App Store policy, and Apple demanded that these be removed, so that the app could pass the review and be published in the store. Kasper Labs has this to say: “For us, that would mean removing two key features from Kaspersky Safe Kids: app control and Safari browser blocking.

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Both features are essential. The first allows parents to specify which apps kids cannot run based on the App Store’s age restrictions. The second allows the hiding of all browsers on the device, so kids can open Web pages only in Kaspersky Safe Kids’ built-in secure browser, which protects them from unsafe content.

So, by removing these two features from Kaspersky Safe Kids for iOS, we are massively letting down parents, who expect that their kids will be able to safely use iPhones and iPads that have our app installed. We believe it is essential that all of our customers, whether they are young or old, are completely safe and get exactly what they expect.

Kasper Lab says the change in Apple’s policy toward the app (as well as toward every other developer of parental control software), notably came on the heels of the Cupertino-based company announcing its own Screen Time feature as part of iOS 12. This feature allows users to monitor the amount of time they spend using certain apps or on certain websites, and set time restrictions. 

“It is essentially Apple’s own app for parental control. From our point of view, Apple appears to be using its position as platform owner and supervisor of the sole channel for delivering apps to users of the platform to dictate terms and prevent other developers from operating on equal terms with it,” says Kasper Lab. “As a result of the new rules, developers of parental control apps may lose some of their users and experience financial impact. Most important, however, it is the users who will suffer as they miss out on some critical security features. The market for parental control apps will head toward a monopoly and, consequently, stagnation.”

The company says it wants Apple to provide competitive terms to third-party developers, “so that it can continue its winning relationship with the company and the advancement of progress.”