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Putin Bans Sale of Smartphones, Computers without Government Apps Installed

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, in Moscow, Russia, June 13, 2019. (Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Monday banning the sale of smartphones, computers, and smart televisions that do not contain pre-installed Russian government software.

The move is ostensibly meant to aid Russian technology firms in competing with foreign industry giants like America’s Apple, South Korea’s Samsung, and China’s Huawei, which are widely present in Russia.

The law states that Russia will release a list of government applications required to be installed on the various devices. Companies who flout the regulations will reportedly be fined approximately $3,100.

The law will go into effect July 1 of next year.

Russia has stiffened other regulations on the internet in the country this year as well, including by mandating that search engines remove some search results.

In May, Putin signed a law allowing Russia to establish a barrier separating its domestic internet activity from the rest of the World Wide Web in order to consolidate government control over internet activity.

In April, Russia threatened to block Facebook and Twitter if the social media giants declined to move data on Russian users to servers located within Russia. The Kremlin fined both companies for failing to comply with the requirement.

Apple, for its part, appeared to capitulate last month to Russian interests when it listed the disputed Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014, as part of Russia. The company has since said it is “taking a deeper look at how we handle disputed borders.”

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