Russian Lawmakers Back Law Requiring Pre-installed Domestic-made Software

A law that would require all smartphones, computers and smart TV sets sold in Russia to come pre-installed with Russian software was backed by Russian lawmakers in a preliminary vote on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The bill would allow the government to designate certain locally-produced software as mandatory for devices sold in the country. According to authorities, the new legislation seeks to help Russian IT firms compete with foreign companies.

Lawmakers in the lower house of parliament say the bill would also benefit Russian consumers, as it will spare them having to download domestic software upon purchasing new technology.

The bill proposes fines for companies that sell devices without pre-installed Russian software of up to 200,000 roubles ($3.146) starting from January 2021.

Russia’s cell phone market is dominated by foreign companies such as Apple, Samsung and Huawei.

In August, Russian internet group said it was in talks with Huawei about the possibility of having its software pre-installed on the Chinese firm’s devices.

The proposal will only become law if it is backed in two more votes by the lower house of parliament and then approved by the upper house and President Vladimir Putin.

Moscow is trying to expand control over the internet and reduce its dependence on foreign companies and countries.

In October, Russian internet giant Yandex expressed concerns over a draft law limiting foreign ownership in Russian IT companies to 50%.

Last week, a law known as the “sovereign internet” bill came into force, tightening state control over the global network.