Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed the legislation which requires all smartphones, TVs, and other electronic gadgets sold in Russia to come pre-installed with Russian software. The law will go into force on July 1, 2020. The law has been heavily criticized by tech companies and retailers who say that it has been drafted and passed without their consultation.
The law is expected to include smartphones, computers, and smart TVs that are sold in the region. The Russian government will make a list of the apps which must be pre-installed on these devices.
As detailed before, the Russian government is taking this step to make people realize that there are noteworthy apps and services from Russian developers and that they don’t need to download apps from western developers. It would also help them avoid downloading apps after purchasing a new device. However, many believe that the pre-loaded apps could be used by the Russian government for spying purposes.
Apple representatives have seemingly made it clear that this legislation will make them reconsider doing business in Russia. The Russian market is a small one for Apple and the company could leave it entirely if the government forces it to pre-install local apps.
An Apple source told Kommersant that a “mandate to add third-party applications to Apple’s ecosystem would be equivalent to jailbreaking. It would pose a security threat, and the company cannot tolerate that kind of risk.”
Many believe that the Russian government has taken this move after looking at how the Chinese government forced Apple to comply with some of the local regulations. The law could be used by Russia to spy on its people, especially after it recently passed the sovereign internet law and how it has forced messaging services to share encryption codes with their security services.
It will be interesting to see how Apple manages to get itself out of this regulatory requirement in Russia, especially since the Russian government does not have the same level of power over Apple as the Chinese government.