SAN FRANCISCO – Russian authorities opened an antitrust investigation of Apple to restrict and remove parental control files from the App Store just after the company released its own competing service, the latest sign of growing control of Silicon Valley power.
Russia's federal antimonopoly service said late Thursday that it would investigate whether Apple had violated Russian competition law when it removed a parental control app created 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 June, Apple turned itself around and allowed the apps to return with the same technologies as long as they promised not to “sell, use or disclose third-party 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 that their review will confirm that all developers have an equal opportunity to succeed in the App Store, "Apple said in the statement." We treat all developers in the same way and invest a lot in creating a safe and reliable 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 tags at a disadvantage. As part of the complaint, Kaspersky said that Apple's return rules to the App Store was vague, Apple prohibited the apps from sharing data with third-party analytics companies to improve their services, and Apple did not allow the apps to use the same technology it did to help e parents checking their children's phones.
Kaspersky has previously faced how they handle users' data. US security officials have said that Kaspersky's antivirus software has been a tool for Russian intelligence agencies, an accusation that Kaspersky has strictly denied.
"The company has no ties to any government, and the company has never helped, nor will, help any government in the world with its online efforts," Kaspersky said in a statement.
Russian investigation is another front for Apple in an extended clash with regulators about how the company oversees the App Store, which distributes millions of apps to customers & # 39; iPhones.
Two other parental control app developers, Kidslox and Qustodio, have complained to the European authorities that Apple was unfairly blocking their apps. At least one US company has filed similar complaints in talks with officials in the Department of Justice, according to a person close to the calls who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were private.
The Justice Department is considering other antitrust complaints against Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, while the House Judiciary Committee is also investigating possible competitive behavior by the four companies. Most of Apple's antitrust control has focused on the control of the App Store.
In the midst of growing attention, Apple released a website in May that defended its approach to the App Store. It said it strove to create "a safe and reliable place for customers" and "a great business opportunity for all developers."