Alexei Kuzovkin on mandatory domestic software law

The State Duma (the lower house of the Russian parliament) passed, in the third and final reading, the bill that makes it mandatory to pre-install Russian software on smartphones and other mobile devices, according to a press release on the State Duma's official website.

The law mandates pre-installation of Russian software on smartphones, laptops and Smart TV devices. The Russian government is still to determine the final list of the devices and software that the law applies to.

The State Duma website says that "the law allows customers to use devices without having to install third-party mobile apps and other software. The law also contributes to promoting Russian software on the IT market."

The Russian public did not show much enthusiasm towards the law. Supporters say that in addition to promoting Russian software developers, the law protects consumer rights of users who will no longer have to search for and download Russian-language software. Bill authors, deputies Sergei Zhigarev, Vladimir Gutenyov, Oleg Nikolayev and Alexander Yushchenko, believe that as a result, Russian developers "will be able to become part of the highly competitive environment alongside foreign corporations.

The opponents of the law warn that the list of software for mandatory pre-installation may include questionable apps of unsatisfactory quality which are too weak to compete with the apps that smartphone manufacturers pre-install. Another concern is that the devices sold in Russia will be equipped with spyware to intercept and monitor communications.

Moreover, Apple has a policy of pre-installing exclusively Apple software on its devices. If forced to change its policy for one country, the company may simply leave the Russian market.

"Strictly in economic terms, the law benefits Russian mobile app developers," comments Alexei Kuzovkin, CEO of Infosoft. "Hypothetically, the law will help to broaden the distribution of Russian software and eventually boost economic growth and create new jobs. Apart from that, all smartphones sold in Russia will have verified data protection tools pre-installed – although essentially, it is already the case. The good thing is the law does not restrict users from installing any apps they want on their smartphones or smart television. So they can basically use whatever they are used to and whatever is more convenient."

The law will take effect on July 1, 2020.

RIA Novosti reports that last July, Zhigarev, Gutenyov, Nikolayev and Yushchenko also submitted a bill on administrative liability for breaching the ban on selling specific types of electronic devices without pre-installed Russian software. If the bill is adopted as proposed, on January 1, 2021, companies may have to pay 50,000 to 200,000 rubles and officers 30,000 to 50,000 rubles in fines. The bill is in line for consideration.