Kaspersky reports Apple to antimonopoly authorities over the handling of its apps

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Security firm Kaspersky has reported Apple to Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service. The complaint comes after Apple rejected the Kaspersky Safe Kids parental control app from the App Store, saying that the implementation of two "essential" features contravened store policies.

Kaspersky was surprised at the removal of the app as it had been sitting happily in the App Store for some three years. The company believes that Apple has forced the app out of the store because iOS 12 introduced its own Screen Time parental controls -- something Kaspersky views as restrictive and monopolistic behaviour.

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Apple took issue with Kaspersky Safe Kids' use of configuration profiles, saying it was against paragraph 2.5.1 of App Store guidelines. To meet the guidelines, Kaspersky says that it would have to remove the app control and Safari browser blocking feature which it describes as essential to the app.

In a blog post about the issue, Kaspersky says:

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.

So what's the deal with reporting Apple to the FSA? Kaspersky says that Apple's attitude towards its app changed after it introduced the new parental control options in iOS 12. The company complains: "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. 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."

Playing devil's advocate, Kaspersky says:

One might argue that the App Store is owned by Apple itself, so why should the company not call the shots? The problem is that Apple does not allow the use of any other software marketplaces for iOS, so it effectively controls the only channel for delivering apps from developers to users.

Unable to engage Apple in negotiation, Kaspersky felt it had no alternative but to go to the authorities. The company points out that it is not alone in feeling muscled out of the market by Apple, highlighting Spotify and AdGuard as other victims of the iPhone-maker.

Kaspersky concludes its blog post saying:

We are [...] confident that we are right and that our initiative will benefit the market at large. We very much hope that Apple will provide competitive terms to third-party developers, so that it can continue its winning relationship with the company and the advancement of progress.

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