Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed legislation that bans the sale of smartphones, computers and Smart TVs without Russian apps and software pre-installed. The law will come into force on July 1st of next year.
It isn’t known yet which apps will make the list or for what purposes they will be used. The legislation states the Russian government will provide a list of the Russian software that would need to be installed before the sale.
The Kremlin justifies the change with a desire to support Russian information technology companies and serve customers. Proponents have also pitched it as a way to spare unsophisticated users, including senior citizens, from the need to install apps.
Traders, however, complain that the law was adopted without consulting them. The Russian market is dominated by foreign products such as Apple, Samsung, and Huawei.
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 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.”
Moreover, the law has stoked fears that Russia could use apps to spy on its citizens.
Russia has introduced tougher internet laws in recent years, requiring search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services and social networks to store user data on servers in the country.
Western experts have previously warned of Russian companies Yandex and Kaspersky cooperating with state security structures. Recently, the popular Russian-based mobile app FaceApp was recognized by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation as a potential counter-intelligence threat.