The Russian government has launched a new law requiring electronic devices to have pre-installed Russian apps and software if they are to be distributed in the country. The measure, which will come into effect in July 2020, will affect mobile phones, tablets, computers and televisions.
The Russian Executive is hiding behind this measure to promote the country’s own software and services, so that users can use them more comfortably. They emphasize “the difficulty that can have older people to install these types of apps and services freely,” which would be solved if they came pre-installed.
Oleg Nikolayev, co-author of the bill, explains that “the regulation will help Russian consumers” because it offers alternatives they didn’t know about: “When a person sees Western software, they might think that there are no local alternatives available. And if, along with the pre-installed applications we also offer Russian ones, users will have the opportunity to choose,” he said.
Technology companies do not seem to be very satisfied with this imposition and some have been quick to oppose it. This is the case of Apple, which is not willing to pre-install third-party software on its devices, especially -they claim- because of the security breach that this may produce, according to the Russian media The Bell.
The technology giant believes the obligation to add third-party applications to Apple’s ecosystem “would be equivalent to jailbreak”, a threat to security, and the company cannot tolerate that type of risk. The company never pre-installs external apps and software on the iOS operating system and has warned that “if this law is finally adopted, it could leave the Russian market” because this “is a market that is strategically not relevant”.
Such is the company’s opposition, that this law has come to be informally called ‘law against Apple’. Its non-compliance would mean a fine of up to 200,000 rubles.
The association representing the technology manufacturers in the country, RATEK, has expressed concern about this decision, especially about its ability to provide the Russian Government with a potential monitoring tool.
They also claim that the departure of companies from the Russian market will cause “all their devices to enter Russia in an opaque manner, and both the State and users will suffer this”. They also warned of the possibility that Russian software may not be installed on many devices.
This is not the first time Russia has been suspicious of foreign technology: in 2018 a Russian court ordered the blockade of Telegram throughout the country and in May of this year they removed Windows from their military computers. In both cases the underlying motive was national security.