Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed legislation requiring all smartphones, computers and smart TV sets sold in the country to come pre-installed with Russian software.
The country’s mobile phone market is dominated by foreign companies including Apple, Samsung and Huawei. The legislation signed by Putin said the government would come up with a list of Russian applications that would need to be installed on the different devices.
According to a profile official, in summer in informal conversations it was said that the main goal of the bill is Apple, which they are trying to oblige the law to install Russian applications on iPhones and iPads. But the iOS operating system that Apple uses does not at all imply the ability to preinstall third-party applications.
At one of the meetings, Apple representatives warned that the introduction of such standards would force the company to “revise its business model in Russia, ” Vedomosti wrote in the summer. As of September, the company’s position has not changed, the official said. “The company then took this position: we will show you the middle finger, your market is a very small segment of our business, its loss is insignificant,” he says. Perhaps the authors of the project were inspired by the example of China, from where, after the adoption of similar rules, no one left, admits The Bell’s interlocutor. But Russia is not China, there are no levers of pressure on Apple, he states.
I’m not sure what Chinese law the writers are referring to. The only laws restricting smartphone apps that I can find being passed by China include one that prohibits preinstalled apps that invade users’ privacy without permission — presumably, this does not include government monitored services — and one that requires the ability to remove preinstalled apps. I cannot find a record of a Chinese law that requires the installation of software on devices sold in the country.
This Russian law really is something else. While I could see a situation in which certain apps aren’t available in Russia, I cannot imagine that Apple would sell iPhones specially customized in accordance with the Russian government’s wishes. That’s an indefensible precedent. Russia’s internet policy goals are increasingly distant from the rest of the world. If isolation is what they wish for, the rest of us should not be dragged along.