Russia has passed new legislation that will require manufacturers of smartphones, computers, and smart TVs to pre-install Russian-made software on their devices. The bill was approved earlier this year by the lower house of the Russian parliament, and officially signed into law on Monday by President Vladimir Putin, reports Reuters.
Legislators claim that the law, which will come into effect on July 1 2020, will help Russian tech companies be more competitive with their western counterparts, and will offer consumers the “right to choose” domestically-produced alternatives.
The law comes as Russia is exerting increasing amounts of control over its digital infrastructure. At the beginning of November, the country’s so-called “sovereign internet” bill came into force, which gives the government the ability to restrict traffic on the Russian internet. Earlier this year, Google started removing websites from its searches at the request of the Russian government, and the authorities also attempted (with limited success) to ban Telegram in the country after the messaging service refused to hand over encryption keys.
Some companies could leave Russia rather than complying with the new law
The Russian government is yet to produce a complete list of devices that will be affected by the legislation, or the Russian-made software that will need to come installed on them. Earlier this year, Reuters noted that Mail.ru was in discussions with Huawei about pre-installing its software on the company’s phones.
Although devices will still be allowed to come with software from non-Russian software vendors pre-installed, there are concerns that the move could cause some companies to leave the Russian market. The Association of Trading Companies and Manufacturers of Electrical Household and Computer Equipment (RATEK) said that it simply might not be possible to install Russian-made software on some devices, and that their manufacturers might leave the market rather than go to the effort of complying with the new law.