Russian President Vladimir Putin today signed new legislation requiring all smartphones, computers, and smart TVs sold in the country to come pre-installed with Russian software, reports Reuters.
Proponents of the law claim it will help Russian developers better compete with foreign tech firms. The legislation has also been pitched as a way of sparing consumers from having to download software after purchasing a new device.
Electronic retailers have already criticized the law, which is due to come into force on July 1 next year, and say the legislation was adopted without consulting them. The law has also sparked fears that Russia could use the pre-installed apps as a way to spy on its citizens.
It’s still unclear how tech companies will react to the news, although Apple has previously threatened to pull out of the Russian market if a complete ban on selling its products without pre-installed apps was introduced, Russian media reported earlier this year.
Responding to today’s news of the law, an unnamed Apple source reportedly told the Kommersant business daily: “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.”
According to The Moscow Times, the government will draw up a list of software which tech companies will need to pre-install, and a list of the devices covered by the law, expected to include computers, tablets and smart TVs alongside mobile phones.
The Russian government has cracked down on internet freedoms in recent years, including requiring messaging services to share encryption keys with security services and social networks to store user data on servers in the country.
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