Russia Opens Antitrust Inquiry Into Apple App Store

Russian officials have opened an antitrust investigation into Apple for restricting and removing parental control apps from its App Store shortly after the company released its own competing service.

Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service said that it would investigate whether Apple had violated Russian competition law when it rejected a parental control app made by Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity company, from the iPhone App Store.

The Russian agency said that after reviewing Kaspersky’s complaint, it concluded that Apple had rejected the app, which it had previously approved, and set unclear requirements for app developers.

In April, after Apple introduced tools to help people limit the time they and their children spent on iPhones, the company removed or restricted popular apps that offered similar services. Apple said the apps improperly used technologies that gave them too much access to users’ data.

In June, Apple reversed itself and allowed the apps to return with the same technologies, as long as they promised to not “sell, use or disclose to third parties any data for any purpose.” Many of the apps have since returned to the App Store.

Apple said in a statement on Friday that Kaspersky had not submitted a new version of its app for review.

“Apple respects the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service and we are confident their review will confirm that all developers have an equal opportunity to succeed on the App Store,” Apple said in the statement. “We treat all developers the same, and invest a lot in creating a safe and trusted place for our customers to discover and download apps.”

Kaspersky said in a blog post that despite Apple’s policy reversal, the Silicon Valley company has still put parental control apps at a disadvantage. As part of its complaint, Kaspersky said that Apple’s rules for returning to the App Store were vague, that Apple prohibited the apps from sharing data with third-party analytics firms to improve their services and that Apple did not allow the apps to use the same technology it did to help parents control their children’s phones.

Edited from New York Times