Russia Wants Apple to Open Local Offices in the Country By End of 2021

BY Anu Joy

Published 24 Nov 2021

Russia has demanded Apple and 12 other foreign tech companies to open offices in the country. The state communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, said firms that violate the legislation could face advertising, data collection and money transfer restrictions, or outright bans.

In July, Putin signed a law mandating foreign social media firms with more than 500,000 daily users to set up offices in Russia. According to Reuters, Roskomnadzor published a list this Monday that included the names of the offending companies for the first time. Besides Apple, it lists Facebook, Google, and Twitter among others.

In addition to having representation in Russia, firms must open an account on the regulator’s website and have a feedback form for interacting with Russian users, Roskomnadzor said.

Recently, Russia filed an antitrust case against Apple over its App Store payment restrictions. Furthermore, it fined companies such as Google, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and Telegram for not deleting content that it deemed illegal.

Russia is eager to control the internet and strengthen its domestic tech sector. In a bid to promote its local technology, the country proposed taxes on foreign-owned digital services and introduced tax cuts for home-grown IT firms.

The Russian government was even able to get Apple to bend its rules for it. Back in 2019, it dictated that all smartphones, computers, and other such devices bought in the country must come preloaded with Russian software. Apple compromised by agreeing to promote the government-suggested apps, but the user can choose not to download them.

Russia could use this law to exert more control over tech companies. Additionally, the move would make it easier to censor anti-government content. Tech firms are caught in a sticky situation, but they would not want to lose a big market like Russia.

Then again, the same Silicon Valley tech firms have no qualms bending over backwards for large, wealthy, and significantly more oppressive markets such as China. Do you think that Apple and its Silicon Valley counterparts will extend the same courtesy to Russia? Let us know in the comments.

[Via Reuters]