Russia planning to ban sale of devices which do not have any Russian-made software

Given Russia's record on user data privacy, this legislation has garnered criticism from manufacturers and distributors in Russia.


Russia is planning to pass a law which could make it difficult for consumer gadget makers to sell their products in the Russian market.

The proposed law which is expected to be passed by July 2020 states that gadgets such as smartphones, computers, smart TVs and so on, which do not come pre-installed with Russian software, will be banned from the Russian market. This legislation was passed by the lower house of the Russian parliament on Thursday. The exact list of products is still to be decided by the government.

The justification being given by Russian authorities, according to BBC, is that this would help local Russian technology. According to one of the co-authors of the bill, Oled Nikolayev, most of the complex electronic devices people buy in Russia, come with Western pre-installed software.

Russia planning to ban sale of devices which do not have any Russian-made software

Russian President Vladimir Putin

"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," said Nikolayev.

The law does not ban non-Russian gadgets from being sold in Russia by default. But alongside the existing software, there has to be a provision for Russian made software to feature on these devices.

According to Xinhua News Agency, the bill still has to be endorsed by the Federation Council or the upper house of the parliament and eventually signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Given Russia's record on user data privacy, this legislation has garnered criticism from manufacturers and distributors in Russia. They fear that companies selling their gadgets in Russia may just exit the market instead of bowing down to this law. The fear of surveillance, with a Russian made software installed on the devices, is very real — something that may not go down well with tech companies.

Earlier this year, Russia had signed into law a 'Russian sovereign internet' which could cut off internet traffic from outside Russia at will. The law requires internet providers to install equipment to route Russian internet traffic through servers in the country. Proponents said it is a defence measure in case the United States or other hostile powers cut off the internet for Russia. Critics say that would increase the power of state agencies to control information. Users, they add, would find it harder to circumvent government restrictions, and the quality of the connection may suffer.

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