The lower house of the Russian Parliament has passed new legislation for electronics that run apps to have pre-installed Russian software, as per a report by BBC.
This new law will be applicable in the country from July 2020 and might lead to a ban on not only Apple iPhones but also other products with foreign software.
According to the bill, electronics such as smartphones, computers, and smart TVs must be sold with locally-made Russian software pre-installed. This means apart from the first-party software, the devices should have Russian alternatives pre-installed in order to qualify for their sale to avoid being banned in the country.
The European Union has a similar law which has made Android OEMs to let users select their choice of apps while setting up the device.
The Russian parliament will soon roll out the list of every gadget that will need to be “updated”. However, the association argues that it is not physically possible to install Russian-made software on all devices, and this decision can easily attract manufacturers from the Russian market. The BBC also noted that supporters said the legislation is focused on promoting the country’s tech.
Oleg Nikolayev, one of the co-authors of the legislation, explained that many Russians don’t know that there are domestic alternatives to the apps that are pre-loaded on phones imported into the country.
“When we buy complex electronic devices, they already have individual applications, mostly Western ones, pre-installed on them. Naturally, when a person sees them… they might think that there are no domestic alternatives available. And if alongside pre-installed applications, we will also offer the Russian ones to users, then they will have a right to choose.”Oleg Nikolayev
The Association of Trading Companies and Manufacturers of Electrical Household and Computer Equipment (RATEK) has also mentioned that it is not possible for many worldwide companies to install Russian-made software and for this reason, they might exit the market. Apple, meanwhile, has been hit with antitrust allegations in Russia.
But as expected, there are worries about surveillance and fears that organizations could pull out of the Russian market. This is mainly because online privacy advocates say that the new law is meant to increase surveillance and censorship by the government. On the other hand, the bill’s proponents argue that they are trying to promote Russian industries over foreign competition.
The justification being given by Russian authorities, according to the BBC, is that this would help local Russian technology. “After we consume complex digital devices, they’ve already bought particular person functions, mostly Western ones, pre-put in on them”, he acknowledged.
“Of course, when someone saw them … they probably think that there is no alternative in the country are available”.
Considering that Apple’s mobile iOS operating system is a closed system, it isn’t likely that the iPhone would be offered with unknown Russian software pre-loaded. As of last month, data from Statcounter shows that Samsung had the largest smartphone market share in Russia with 22.04%. Huawei was next with a 15.99% slice of the Russian smartphone pie followed by Apple, whereby the iPhone had a market share of 15.83% in Russia during October.
Reasonably, the move is in a bid to boost Russian brands which also complicates a lot of things for the foreign companies selling those devices in Russia.
Although, this is not the first time Russia has passed a law like this. For the last five years, the country has been introducing rigorous internet laws. The last one was just passed a few weeks back which enabled officials with the power to restrict internet traffic. The Kremlin says it will improve cybersecurity, but critics fear the government will try to create an internet firewall similar to that in China. So far, companies have complied with the various laws, including Apple, which agreed to store user data on Russian servers.