FAS Finds Apple Guilty of iOS API Restrictions in Russia

iOS 12 Screen Time
Image: Apple

Apple has been in the news a lot lately. The odd thing is that the increased coverage has not been about a new product release, nor has it been about some new, snazzy way to post on social media. One might think that after such great news regarding its increased market value, all would be well in Cupertino. It even managed a win in the EU regarding a ruling on backlogged taxes. However, for the last couple of weeks, there has been an ongoing battle revolving between it and Epic Games over Fortnite. It seems that Epic is not alone with Apple’s decision-making process, either. Neowin has reported about another app incident.

This latest turn of events involves iOS 12 and an app called Screen Time. Screen Time is a parental control application for monitoring a device’s use. Seems like a good idea, right? Well, at the time, when Apple released it, it also removed certain developer APIs to third parties. These APIs were actually the same ones being used by Screen Time. This led Kaspersky Lab’s own parental control app to lose its own functionality, since it could no longer access those APIs. Recently, the Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation has found Apple guilty of abusing its dominant position in the mobile apps market.

Original Press Release

On August 10, 2020, the consideration of the antitrust case initiated against Apple Inc. (parent company Apple, USA) at the request of Kaspersky Lab.

Investigation showed that Apple occupies a dominant position with a 100% share in the market for distribution of mobile applications on the iOS operating system, since it is possible to install such an application legally only from the App Store.

Since October 2018, Apple implemented consistent policy on restricting the tools and capabilities for developing parental control applications. This, in turn, resulted in losing by third party developers of the most applications functionality.

The implementation of this policy coincided with the release of the company’s own pre-installed Screen time application, which has functionality similar to that of parental control applications.

The FAS Commission found that Apple abused its dominant position in relation to developers of parental control mobile applications and restricted competition in the market for distribution of applications on mobile devices running the iOS operating system.

The violation was also expressed in the establishment by Apple of the right to reject, not allow any third-party application from the App Store, even if it meets all Apple requirements.

Apple will be issued a ruling with requirements to eliminate violations.

“Access to the App Store is the only possibility for application developers to distribute their products on the iOS operating system, and it is extremely important to create non-discriminatory conditions for market access to ensure competition,” said Aleksey Dotsenko, Deputy Head of the FAS Russia.

As Apple continues to shore up its policies regarding app compliance within its ecosystem, it is making waves. Whether it’s cloud gaming services from Microsoft and Google Stadia to the aforementioned Epic Games battles, the bans keep coming. Rulings for it have varied as well. Who knows what will be banned, broken, or removed next?

Peter Brosdahl
As a child of the 70’s I was part of the many who became enthralled by the video arcade invasion of the 1980’s. Saving money from various odd jobs I purchased my first computer from a friend of my dad, a used Atari 400, around 1982. Eventually it would end up being a lifelong passion of upgrading and modifying equipment that, of course, led into a career in IT support.

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