Russia will start blocking iOS and Android devices

A few days ago, the Russian government revealed its plans to move its entire IT infrastructure into the use of home software. Now, network security experts report that a new law has been passed to ban the sale of some devices that do not have Russian software preinstalled.

This law appears to come into force in the middle of next year, and will apply to manufacturers of smartphones, computer equipment and smart TVs, among other smart devices.

In proposing this new law, Russian lawmakers argued that their main objective is to promote the use of technology developed in the country, as well as to facilitate the use of new technologies among the population less familiar with these devices.

However, many network security experts doubt the good intentions of the Russian government, as they are concerned about the potential risk of surveillance and espionage, as well as the possibility that companies that do not adhere to these standards are expelled from the Russian market.

This does not mean that a smartphone or any other smart device available in Russia cannot be sold with software regularly used by the manufacturer (such as the operating system); however, its Russian-developed counterparty must be included in order for its sale to be permitted.

The bill has just been passed by the lower house of Russia’s parliament; Once the legislative process is complete, the Kremlin will draw up the list of devices to conform to this law, in addition to the Russian software developments to be installed on these devices, network security specialists mention.

Oleg Nikolayev, one of the main lawmakers behind this bill, stated: “When we acquire one of these complex electronic devices we find that they already have some tools preinstalled, most developed in the West. It is normal that if a Russian resident finds them included in their device by default not even think about using a domestic alternative; we’re looking for users to have the right to choose,” the lawmaker said.

This new law has already generated some doubts and criticisms among manufacturers and distributors. Through a statement, the Association of Trading Companies and Manufacturers of Electrical Household and Computer Equipment in Russia (RATEK) assured that it is not possible to install home software on many of these devices, in addition to many manufacturers they could choose to leave this market, not to mention a possible invasive use against users’ privacy. 

Network security specialists from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) believe that privacy concerns and this new law are not unfounded, as Russia has been implementing legislation on the use of Internet increasingly strict, forcing the removal of some results in the most used search engines and requiring some instant messaging services to remove end-to-end encryption.

A few weeks ago, Russia announced the update of its “Sovereign Internet Law”, which gives the government the ability to restrict web traffic to the interior of the country. The government argues computer security reasons; although it is believed that its real intentions are to create a kind of isolated system, similar to what happens in China and its firewall at the national level.