World Moscow now installs mandatory Russian apps on phones

Moscow now installs mandatory Russian apps on phones

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648x415 homme smartphone russie image illustration

A man on his smartphone in Russia (illustrative image). – Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP

A law that came into force on Thursday makes the pre-installation of Russian software or applications mandatory on all smartphones, tablets, computers and other connected objects sold in Russia.

According to this law, all connected devices sold in the country from April 1 must be equipped with this software, whether produced in Russia or imported, under penalty of fines from July. This law was promulgated at the end of 2019 by President Vladimir Putin and was initially due to come into force on July 1, 2020.

Social networks and mailboxes

It is presented by the authorities as a way to promote the country’s technology companies in the face of foreign competition. But critics say it is a new attempt by the power to control the digital space.

The pre-installed services belong in particular to the two Russian internet giants Yandex and Mail.ru. Among the social networks are the “Russian Facebook” Odnoklassniki and VKontakte. The list also includes programs from Kaspersky Lab.

In Russia, this controversial law has been dubbed the “anti-Apple law”, the American manufacturer having consistently refused to pre-install applications other than its own on its devices. The Russian authorities have continued to tighten the screws in recent years on the Internet, blocking content and sites linked to the opposition, but also services that refused to cooperate with them while the Internet is one of the last spaces of freedom for critical voices of power.

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