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Kaspersky Files Complaint Against Apple Over Treatment In App Store

Kaspersky alleges that Apple changed its App Store rules after debuting its own parental control tool to force Kaspersky to remove features from its competing app.

Kaspersky Lab filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with Russian authorities, alleging that the tech giant's new App Store policy creates monopolistic conditions.

The Moscow, Russia-based platform security vendor said in a blog post Tuesday that Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple's new App Store rules forced Kaspersky to remove app control and Safari browser blocking from its Safe Kids iOS app. The change in Apple’s policy toward Kaspersky's app came after the company debuted its own Screen Time feature in September 2018 as part of iOS 12.

"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 wrote in a blog post.

[Related: Kaspersky Lab Names New North American Sales, Marketing Leader]

The company said it lodged a complaint Tuesday with the Federal Antimonopoly Service in Russia. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kaspersky said Apple's new rules might cause other developers of parental control apps to lose users and experience financial impact, creating monopoly-like conditions in the market. Other developers of parental control tools like AdGuard and Kidslox have also lost their ability to restrict access to apps as a result of Apple's new rules, according to Kaspersky.

"By setting its own rules for that [app delivery] channel, [Apple] extends its power in the market over other, adjacent markets: for example, the parental control software market, where it has only just become a player," Kaspersky said in the blog post.

Apple effectively controls the only channel for delivering apps from developers to users since no other software marketplace is allowed in iOS, according to Kaspersky. The company's possession of “key capacity” over other segments makes it possible for Apple to violate antitrust law by erecting barriers that result in the reduction or elimination of competition, Kaspersky said.

Kaspersky said it has repeatedly attempted to contact Apple to resolve the situation, but said that no meaningful negotiations have ensued. The company said that Safe Kids had been hosted in the App Store for nearly three years without any complaint from Apple.

Apple's stock closed Tuesday down $1.49, or 0.79 percent, to $186.53 per share.

Meanwhile, music streaming service Spotify filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in the European Union last week, alleging that the company is giving its Apple Music service an unfair advantage by levying App Store taxes against Spotify and other competitors. Apple fired back two days later, claiming that "Spotify wants all the benefits of a free app without being free."

This is not Kaspersky Lab's first time at the antitrust rodeo. The company in November 2016 filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft in both Russia and the European Union, alleging that the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant had make it excessively difficult for other antivirus makers to compete following a major Windows 10 update.

Kaspersky dropped its complaint nine months later after Microsoft revised its antivirus and update policies.

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