Russia Postpones Ban on iPhones That Lack Government Mandated Apps

Apple iPhone 8 Series

Last year, Russia had planned to ban smartphones and computers that lack local apps. However, it looks like the provisions will not kick in until next year. There’s no apparent reason for this delay, but it is being reported that the COVID-19 outbreak might be to blame.

In November 2019, the lower house of the Russian parliament had passed a bill that mandated all smartphones, tablets, computers, and smart TVs to come pre-loaded with mandated local apps. This would require Apple to sell all iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple TVs with Russian government-approved local apps, but we know what’s the Cupertino-based company’s stand on privacy.

If Apple denies to pre-load its devices with Russia’s approved apps, the company won’t be allowed to sell its smartphones, tablets, and computers in the country. Oleg Nikolayev, the co-author of Russia’s legislation, had said that whenever Russian people buy devices made by western firms, they come pre-installed with their own apps. When a user sees those apps, they might think that there are no local alternative apps that can replace pre-installed apps.

Russia thinks that mandating smartphones and computers to come pre-installed with domestic apps would offer users a right to choose. However, the country’s own Association of Trading Companies and Manufacturers of Electrical Household and Computer Equipment had decried the government’s bill and decision. The association claimed that mandating local apps on all smartphones and computers would mean less choice and more surveillance.

Apps that are pre-loaded on devices would reportedly not have to pass through a vetting process, something that Apple does for all apps that are published on the App Store. This means that there won’t be any way for users to know if those local Russian apps are state-sponsored spyware for mass surveillance. The process of banning devices from companies that do not comply with the new bill has been postponed, but the reason isn’t clear. A Russian website says that it could be due to the global COVID-19 situation.

Our Take

The Russian government has been increasing the control on the internet and devices sold in the country. Apple has even complied with various Russian laws, one of which requires the company to store user data on local servers, but we don’t think the iPhone maker would agree to sell iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple TVs with pre-installed local Russian apps.

The company has a strict stand on user data privacy, and the company is against government-sponsored surveillance and backdoors. So, there’s a possibility of Apple lobbying against the bill and somehow jumping over the hurdle by next year.

[Source: Tass] .adslot_1 { width: 300px; height: 250px; } @media (min-width:340px) { .adslot_1 { width: 336px; height: 280px; } } <!– Like this post? Share it! –> <!–

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