Russian Law Wants To Make Certain Devices To Have Russian-Made Software Pre-Installed


While hardware components of devices can be sourced from anywhere from the West to the East, the software market is mostly populated by products created by the West, and most notably, the U.S..

To ensure a better competition, and also to decrease its citizens' reliance on Western-made apps, Russia has passed a law banning the sale of certain devices that are not pre-installed with Russian software.

The law that is aimed to come in force starting July 2020, is meant to cover smartphones, computers and smart televisions. The government is on the move in creating a complete list of gadgets that should be affected.

Proponents of the legislation said the law is to help promote Russian technology, and making it easier for people in the country to use the gadgets they buy.

And as for devices from other countries, they cannot be sold in Russia with their normal software. If they want their devices to hit the Russia market, they need to also have Russian "alternatives" installed on the devices.

The legislation was passed by Russia's lower house of parliament on Thursday. November 21th.

Putin Net
In March 2019, thousands of people in Moscow and other Russian cities protested the legislation they fear could lead to widespread internet censorship in the country. (Credit: AP Photo)

According to a report from Interfax news agency, one of the bill's co-authors, Oleg Nikolayev, explained that:

"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."

But there are concerns.

First, many have raised their worries that Russian-made software could be used by the government to better spy on its citizens. Russia is one of those countries besides China, that is actively monitoring its internet.

And second, the legislation has also faced criticism from manufacturers and distributors in Russia.

The Association of Trading Companies and Manufacturers of Electrical Household and Computer Equipment (RATEK) said that it won't be possible to install Russian-made software on some devices, as forcing such regulations on international companies behind those gadgets would make them leave the Russian market.

Previously, Russia has introduced tougher internet law, including requiring search engine companies to remove some search results, and calling on messaging services to share their encryption keys.

And this Russian-made software requirement law comes only weeks after the country introduced new controls on the internet through its "sovereign internet" law. This law can give the Russian government the rights to restrict internet traffic on the Russian web.

While Kremlin said that the moves are meant to improve cyber security in overall, but critics fear the government can use their rights to further regulate the internet, similar to that in China.