Kaspersky Lab has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple after being told that its parental control app violated App Store policies.
In an article on Kaspersky's blog, the company said Apple only objected to its Safe Kids app after the iPhone maker launched Screen Time for iOS 12. The new feature allegedly had similar functions to Kaspersky's parental control program.
The cybersecurity firm later filed a complaint against Apple with the Federal Antimonopoly Service in Russia after the iPhone maker banned Kaspersky's app.
"Our claim pertains to Apple's policy on apps distributed through the App Store," Kaspersky wrote. "Despite a long history of working successfully with Apple, we believe that this is a necessary step."
Kaspersky's Safe Kids Vs. Apple's Screen Time
Kaspersky found out about the supposed issue with its Safe Kids app after Apple contacted the company, claiming that the program did not meet the App Store's guidelines on hosted apps.
The cybersecurity firm said it never had any problems with Apple before pertaining to the parental control app. Safe Kids had met all necessary requirements and had been hosted in the digital distribution platform for nearly three years.
Apple said Safe Kids' use of configuration profiles was in violation of App Store policies. It ordered Kaspersky to remove the feature from the app, so that it could pass the iPhone maker's review and be published in the store.
However, Kaspersky said it would mean taking out two key functions from Safe Kids. These are the app control and Safari browser blocking features of the program. The company said both are essential parts of Safe Kids.
App control allows parents to determine which apps their children cannot run based on the age restrictions of the App Store.
Meanwhile, the Safari browser blocking feature hides away all web browsers on devices, so that kids can only open pages seen in Safe Kids' built-in secure browser. This helps protect them from potentially unsafe content on the web.
If Kaspersky removes the two features from its parental control app, the company said it will disappoint customers, who expect their children to be kept safe while they use their iPhones and iPads that have Safe Kids 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," the company said.
Kaspersky believes Apple's policy toward the Safe Kids app, as well as toward other parental control app developers, notably came after the iPhone maker announced the iOS 12's Screen Time feature.
Screen Time lets users monitor just how much time they spend on websites or apps. It also has time restrictions to help control the use of these programs. The new iOS feature is basically Apple's version of a parental control app, according to Kaspersky.
The cybersecurity firm alleged that Apple is using its position as owner and supervisor of the App Store to dictate terms to other developers and prevent them from operating on equal terms. Because of this, app makers may lose their customers, ultimately affecting their bottomline.
Kaspersky said users will also suffer from Apple's restrictive since they will miss out on critical security features that were supposed to be included with parental control apps. The market for such programs will end up being monopolized and will then stagnate as a result.
Apple Vs. App Developers
Kaspersky's complaint is just the latest in a long line of legal disputes thrown at Apple for its alleged unfair treatment of app developers.
Last week, Spotify filed a similar suit against the iPhone maker regarding its so-called Apple tax. The music streaming service claimed that Apple's collection of 30 percent on any App Store transaction gives its own Apple Music service an unfair advantage over competitors.
Apple responded by stating its 30 percent tax goes down to 15 percent after the first year of subscription. The company also asserted that the App Store's ecosystem is actually beneficial even to other services such as Spotify.