Ukrainian startup accuses Apple of unfair competition. The company agreed to cooperate

A month ago, Ukrainian Kidslox and Spanish Qustodio filed a complaint with the European Commission against Apple’s actions, accusing it of unfair competition. These companies are developing parental control apps, and last year Apple refused to update them because of the technologies that are used in these apps. After WWDC-2019, the company updated its rules and allowed these technologies again.

Background of the conflict

Kidslox is a Ukrainian startup founded in 2014, which is developing a parental control app for iOS and Android: it allows you to block harmful content and manage the time your children spend on a device. This application uses VPN and MDM (mobile device management) technologies to filter and block content, as well as to block the apps after the set time limit.

Kidslox explained that the startup uses these tools because Apple doesn’t offer other documented ways to implement these features. Still, Apple refused to update the app five times in 2018 due to the use of the company’s tools for “undocumented purposes”. Later, Apple said they changed their rules to prevent apps like Kidslox from collecting data about device owners, which means that the startup’s app will gradually become obsolete. And the alternative was to eliminate its core features.

According to the startup’s CEO, Viktor Yevpak, the startup held long negotiations with Apple. After six months, 19 letters and a few phone calls, the company allowed to use VPN, but banned MDM instead.

That’s when Kidslox appealed against the actions of the company. This company’s policy affected about 17 developers of similar services.

How the problem was solved

AIN.UA learned from the company that Apple “backed up” on this issue. “Apple agreed to cooperate with Kidslox and other parental control apps. This week, the company informed that they have changed the app review criteria and allowed to use the technologies that were available a year ago,” the company reported.

Indeed, the company did recently change app review criteria in the App Store Review Guidelines. The updates also relate to the MDM technology, which parental control applications are allowed to use.

Kidslox’s CEO calls it a big victory, but not the end. The company will continue to uphold the idea that Apple shouldn’t have an exclusive right to screen dependency solutions. “Apple keeps track of screen time only on their devices. We believe that Apple should allow all parental control apps to do this through a public API,” he says.

Earlier Kidslox informed that Apple decided to block updates for similar applications due to the fact that they introduced their own time control solution in summer of 2018 (same time when the issues with updates appeared).