On March 19, Kaspersky Lab filed a complaint against Apple with Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS.)
The web security firm's claim pertains to Apple’s policy on apps distributed through the App Store. Despite a long history of working successfully with Apple, we believe that this is a necessary step.
Last year, Kaspersky says it received a notice from Apple saying that the Kaspersky Safe Kids for iOS app did not meet the requirements of paragraph 2.5.1 of the guidelines for apps hosted in the App Store. The app had 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. "For us, that would mean removing two key features from Kaspersky Safe Kids: app control and Safari browser blocking," Kaspersky said.
The first feature 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.
"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" Kaspersky said.
The change in Apple’s policy 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.
"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," Kaspersky added.
Kaspersky says it has repeatedly tried to contact Apple to resolve the situation, "but no meaningful negotiations have ensued."
The issue of a ban on the use of configuration profiles has, to varying degrees, affected every developer of parental control apps, not just Kaspersky.
Spotify also recently filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission, similarly claiming that the Cupertino company has been using its monopoly for advancing its services without giving others a chance to compete on equal terms.
"We very much hope that we will also be able to continue our winning relationship with Apple, and that requires us to create an environment where Kaspersky Lab and other companies compete on equal footing. The environment is very different at the moment, which is why we are in the process of applying to the Federal Antimonopoly Service," Kaspersky said.