New legislation will require all smartphones, computers and even smart televisions to have Russian-made software included from July 2020. Supporters say it promotes local technology, but detractors believe that a fear of surveillance apps will make manufacturers pull out of Russia.
Russia's lower house of parliament has passed legislation that will make it mandatory for devices such as Apple's iPhone that feature apps to include pre-loaded Russian-made ones. It does not dictate that other apps, such as the manufacturer's own, cannot be installed. However, phones, computers and televisions without locally-made apps will be banned from sale from July 2020.
According to to BBC News, the details of which devices are involved or what Russian-made software will be required is still to be determined.
"When we buy complex electronic devices, they already have individual applications, mostly Western ones, pre-installed on them," co-author of Russia's legislation, Oleg Nikolayev said.
"Naturally, when a person sees them," he continued, "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."
However, Russia's own Association of Trading Companies and Manufacturers of Electrical Household and Computer Equipment decries the legislation. BBC News reports that the organization has said it will not be physically possible to install such software on every device. It believes that manufacturers may simply pull out of the Russian market instead.
Apps that are pre-loaded because of legislation would presumably not have to pass through a vetting process such as Apple's with App Store submissions. There would be no way for users to know whether or not these apps contained state-supported official spyware.
The new legislation comes after the country has introduced increasing control and limitations on the internet. So far, companies have complied with the various laws, including Apple, which agreed to store user data on Russian servers.