EVERY new phone and computer in Russia must have secret government software installed in a scary crackdown on freedom.
Russia’s lower house of parliament also today passed a bill granting government officials the right to register bloggers, journalists and social media users as foreign agents.
Tass in Russia said that the State Duma adopted a bill on the pre-installation of Russian software on smartphones, computers, and televisions with “smart-TV function of applications targeted at the Russian audience”.
Politicians said the bill would “help promote Russian programmes in the information technology market”.
The new law will come into force on July 1, 2020.
Reuters explained earlier this month that the legislation would allow the government to designate certain locally-produced software as mandatory for devices sold in the country.
The lower house of parliament said the bill would also benefit Russian consumers, as it would spare them having to download domestic software after buying new technology.
The bill imposes fines for companies that sell devices without pre-installed Russian software of up to 200,000 roubles (US$3,155) starting from January 2021.
Russia’s cellphone market is dominated by foreign companies Apple, Samsung and Huawei products.
In August, Russian internet group Mail.ru said it was in talks with Huawei about the possibility of having its software pre-installed on the Chinese firm’s devices.
Moscow is trying to expand control over the internet and reduce its dependence on foreign companies and countries.
Last month, Russian internet giant Yandex expressed concerns over a draft law limiting foreign ownership in Russian IT companies to 50 per cent.
BLOGGERS MUST REGISTER
Foreign bloggers, journalists and social media users were also targeted by Russia’s lower house of parliament today.
The Associated Press reports that a bill has given the green light, allowing bureaucrats to register bloggers, journalists and social media users as foreign agents in Russia.
The State Duma on Thursday almost unanimously approved a bill which extends an existing law involving foreign-funded media outlets.
That was adopted in 2017 in response to the decision by the US Justice Department to label the Russian state-funded RT television a foreign agent.
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The new law can apply to anyone who distributes content produced by media outlets registered as foreign agents and receives payments from abroad.
The move has been criticised by many in Russia for restricting freedom of expression in Russia even further and allowing the authorities to crack down on dissent.