Russian President Vladimir Putin today signed a new law requiring all smartphones, computers and smart TVs sold in the country to be pre-installed with Russian software, Reuters reported. Proponents of the law claim it will help Russian developers better compete with foreign technology companies. The legislation also aims to make it enough that consumers will not have to download software after buying a new device.
E-retailers have criticised the law, which will come into force on July 1 next year, and say it was passed without consulting them. The law has also raised concerns that Russia could use pre-installed apps to spy on its citizens. According to Russian media reports earlier this year, Apple had previously threatened to pull out of the Russian market if it banned the sale of its products without pre-installed apps.
An Apple source, who asked not to be named, reportedly told Businessinsider: “The authorization to add third-party apps to the Apple ecosystem is tantamount to jailbreak.” This would pose a security threat that Apple cannot tolerate. According to the Moscow Times, the government will draw up a list of software that technology companies need to pre-install, as well as a list of devices covered by law, which are expected to include computers, tablets and smart TVs, as well as mobile phones.
The Russian government has cracked down on Internet freedom in recent years, including requiring sMS services to share encryption keys with security services and requiring social networks to store users’ data on domestic servers.