It certainly looks like a paranoid move. Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has decreed that all smartphones, computers, and smart devices bought in the country have to be pre-installed with Russian software. This legislation for this was signed on Monday.
This law will come into effect across all the kray and oblast of Russia on July 1, 2020. However, it has been resisted by mobile makers and electronic retailers as they were not consulted during the framing of the legislation.
According to Russian officials, this law will aid the Russian IT sector compete foreign companies. They believe it will relieve the common consumers from the unnecessary burden of downloading vendor-specific software when a new device is purchased.
The Russian mobile market has been swamped by non-Russian companies like Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, and OnePlus. There’s an absence of any major indigenous brand, like what Micromax, Karbonn, and Lava are to India. President Putin’s approved legislation will soon officiate a list of Russian applications that need to be included with every new smartphone bought.
This could be a move to further increase control on the average Russian. The pre-installed software may give Russian authorities a backdoor to an individual’s phone for spying. It’s something out of a George Orwell book, especially since Russia has enacted stricter internet laws and regulations recently. They have made selected search engines delete sensitive search results. Messaging services have been made to share encryption keys as well, along with access to user data of social networks.
Journalists from around the world, especially the US, have dubbed this as the “law against Apple” since the US company refused to include third-party apps in the handsets. One of the Apple spokespersons explained, “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.”
Smartphone companies that do not follow this law will have to pay a fine of 200,000 Rubles, which is roughly $3,100. I feel sorry for the common Russian, really.