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Kaspersky Files Complaint Against Apple Over App Store Policy

Kaspersky Lab on Tuesday filed a complaint against Apple with the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service after the tech giant introduced a new App Store policy requiring it to remove some important features from its Safe Kids app.

Kaspersky Safe Kids is an app designed to protect children when they surf the web, including by controlling the time they can spend on the device and certain applications, monitoring their activities, and setting access rules for websites and apps. Kaspersky Safe Kids is available for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS.

Kaspersky filed a complaint against Apple after being informed that Safe Kids violated App Store policies by using configuration profiles. Apple has asked Kaspersky to stop using them if it wants the application to remain in the official app store.

The cybersecurity firm has pointed out that Safe Kids has been on the App Store for nearly three years and Apple has never before complained about it. The company does not want to stop using configuration profiles as that would require it to remove two important features.

One of these features is app control, which allows parents to specify which apps cannot be run based on App Store age restrictions. The second is Safari browser blocking, which allows parents to hide all the web browsers installed on a device so that their kids can only surf the web using the secure browser built into Safe Kids.

Kaspersky says the introduction of the new policy came shortly after Apple announced Screen Time in iOS 12. Screen Time is a feature that allows users to monitor the time spent on certain apps and websites, and set time restrictions, which can serve as parental control features.

“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,” Kaspersky said. “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 says it has been trying to come to an agreement with Apple, but without any success, which is why it has decided to file a complaint.

SecurityWeek has reached out to Apple for comment and will update this article if the company responds.

The cybersecurity firm has highlighted that it is not the only developer impacted by the new policy. Several companies complained after the launch of Screen Time that their parental control and screen time tracking apps were targeted by Apple and some of them were rejected or removed from the App Store.

Music service Spotify also filed a complaint against Apple recently, claiming that the tech giant is giving its Apple Music streaming service an unfair advantage.

This is not the first antitrust complaint filed by Kaspersky. In 2016, the company filed a complaint -- in both Russia and the EU -- against Microsoft for aggressively promoting its own antimalware solutions to Windows users. Microsoft ultimately came to an agreement with Kaspersky and other cybersecurity vendors.

Related: Kaspersky's U.S. Government Ban Upheld by Appeals Court

Related: U.S. Judge Rejects Kaspersky Suit Against Govt Ban on its Products

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.