Russian phones to have software that espouses national values

Photo by Rusian_lefremov

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Smartphones and other devices sold in Russia must be pre-installed with software that is morally sound and espouses traditional Russian values, according to new draft rules.

President Vladimir Putin signed legislation last year requiring all smartphones, computers and smart TV sets sold in the country to come pre-installed with Russian software.

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service has now drafted guidelines outlining what kinds of software could be made mandatory.

A draft government resolution seen by Reuters said such software should help with the “formation of the priority of traditional Russian spiritual and moral values”. It must be both popular and secure.

The text did not explicitly define these values, and the monopoly office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During his two decades in power, Putin has closely aligned himself with the Orthodox Church and sought to distance Russia from liberal Western values, as seen for example in attitudes towards homosexuality and gender fluidity. “The liberal idea has become obsolete,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times last year.

The draft rules say software and apps can be put forward for consideration by private companies, state entities or the central bank. They are due to be finalised by the end of the month, then discussed with market players and submitted to the government for adoption in March.

Supporters of the software requirement hope it will help Russian IT firms vie with foreign competitors. But the legislation was opposed by Russian electronics retailers who said it had been passed without them being consulted.

Russia has introduced tougher internet laws in recent years, requiring search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services, and social networks to store user data on servers in the country.

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Nadezhda Tsydenova; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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