The International Business Times (IBT) is reporting that Apple may leave the Russian market next year in response to a new law requiring Russian software alternatives be installed on electronic devices.
The new law, which Putin signed on December 5, goes into effect on July 1, 2020. The law requires all computers, smartphones and smart TVs to have Russian applications pre-installed. As Reuters reports, electronic companies are pushing back on the law, although few as much as Apple.
Apple has said the Russian law would require the equivalent of jailbreaking its software, something it has refused to do in the past. While the law’s proposed purpose is to allow local companies to better compete with the software that comes loaded on devices, critics believe any software the Russian government would insist be installed could, and likely would, be used to spy on people.
According to IBT, “an unnamed Apple source allegedly informed Kommersant Business Daily that a mandate to include third-party applications to Apple’s ecosystem would be synonymous with jailbreaking. The Apple source also said that it might pose a security threat, and Apple would not tolerate such kind of risk. The Russian government will come up with a list of software and apps which tech firms are required to pre-install, as well as the list of devices covered by this new law, reports The Moscow Times.”
For Apple, the stakes are far greater that just the Russian market. The company has made a name for itself as a staunch protector of privacy, going head-to-head with the FBI to fight attempts to force it to create backdoors in its software. If it gives in to Russia, it will set a dangerous precedent that other governments will no doubt seize upon.