All Inclusive: Russia approved the list of software for pre-installation on electronic devices

All Inclusive: Russia approved the list of software for pre-installation on electronic devices

The Government of the Russian Federation has approved a list of Russian software that is mandatory for pre-installation on mobile phones, computers and TVs with a digital control unit in 2024. The updated list also includes several Russian video services.

All Inclusive: Russia approved the list of software for pre-installation on electronic devices

The law obliging to pre-install Russian soft on smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs with the Smart TV function came into force more than two years ago - in April 2021. Relevant applications to be included in the list for pre-installation are selected by specialists from the Ministry of Digital Development.

The main criterion for such selection (except certain software classes) is popularity: the audience of each application should be at least 500,000 users. At the same time, the list of software for pre-installation is being adjusted: on August 2, the Russian government approved a list of Russian software that will be pre-installed on electronic devices in 2024.

 “Beside the programs required for pre-installation this year, the new list has been added by several video services. At the same time, the owners of electronic devices will still be able to choose by themselves which program or application to use”, the Cabinet’s press service noted.

Among other things, the pre-installation program includes the “MyOffice Documents” mobile application and the “MyOffice Standard. Home Edition” office suite. As Petr Shcheglov, Director of product marketing at MyOffice, says in an interview to the “Izvestia” newspaper: “Today the regulation of software pre-installation on consumer electronic devices is a global practice, and relevant governing laws exist in many countries around the world”.

In a global trend

According to Petr Shcheglov, countries in which such pre-installation of software on electronic devices is legally regulated seek to limit the growth of monopolies, on the one hand, and support the development of local IT-companies, on the other hand. In turn, IT Infrastructure Security Team Leader at Gazinformservice, Sergey Polunin points out that smartphone producers themselves often install their own applications on new devices, and it won’t be possible to remove them without special skills.

 “If look only on the surface of things, then it will be useful to have a smartphone that is OOB equipped with all the services popular in the region,” Polunin says. “Moreover, the choice of what to apply ultimately remains with the user.

As Petr Shcheglov explains, the software pre-installation, which started on April 1, 2021 in Russia, gave independent Russian developers a new opportunity to compete with global software giants, as well as introduced users to domestic IT solutions that are just as good as foreign ones. The specialist claims that users only benefit from simplifying the process of activating the gadget. Their devices are ready for use immediately after purchase - all the basic apps have already been downloaded or at least available for quick installation. 

“At the same time, pre-installation does not place any restrictions on the removal or use of other applications, thus a user has a choice,” the Izvestia interlocutor notes. — Russian pre-installation rules also enable device manufacturers to choose the most optimal way to install domestic software.

Sergei Polunin says that in order to fulfill the requirement on Russian software pre-installation, electronics manufacturers have to develop a special firmware version for the Russian Federation, which includes all necessary software equipment. According to the specialist, first of all, we are talking about replacing the built-in applications of Android OS, including maps, search engines and email clients.

Security aspects

Pre-installation of Russian applications in 2024 will be differentiated by video services appeared in the list. Sergei Polunin marks a very high competition now, moreover, it is very problematic to announce an application and make it popular. But pre-installation on client’s smartphones for Russian video hosting services will at least allow users to get aquatinted with it.

Pavel Kuznetsov, Product director at Garda Technologies says that at the same time, pre-installation does not carry additional risks in terms of information security.

“As a rule, mobile devices, even for software related to their own ecosystem, give users a choice - to create an account and use it in their own interests or not,” says the Izvestia interlocutor. — If you removed software (including pre-installed one) for some personal reasons without adding data to it, there is simply no place for leaks to come from.

According to Pavel Kuznetsov, it is not worth worrying about cyber threats due to pre-installation of any applications, because the components of mobile operating systems themselves are subject to serious vulnerabilities. Therefore, pre-installation of software does not play any role here.

For users of devices with pre-installed  software who are afraid for their information security, the expert recommends maintaining digital hygiene, regularly raising their awareness of IT issues, monitoring timely software updates and using specialized protection tools when working with confidential information.

“The only really important question for users in terms of pre-installing software on electronic devices is whether they can use something alternative instead,” believes Sergei Polunin. “If this choice remains, globally nothing will change for consumers. Perhaps, except for one moment.

Otherwise

According to Sergei Polunin, the long-term consequences of mandatory pre-installation of Russian software on electronic devices will directly depend on how manufacturers decide to implement this requirement. They will inevitably have the task of creating and maintaining up-to-date special firmware for smartphones and other electronics, allowing them to be sold in Russia. The expert notes that due to such circumstances such digital equipment could potentially become "a little more expensive."

Another potential issue is memory filling. According to Petr Shcheglov, sometimes there are concerns that the pre-installed software will take up a lot of space. As a result, low-cost smartphones may be lack of spaces for photos and other content at all. However, as the interlocutor of Izvestia says, such fears are unfounded.

“Low-cost device producers, in accordance with the rules, place labels in a conspicuous place — links to applications,” explains Petr Shcheglov. - This approach allows to save space, on the one hand, and to give users access to applications, on the other hand.

Thus, there are no technical problems for pre-installing Russian software on electronics, there can be no excuses from gadget producers. Moreover, on July 1, 2021, draft law No. 757430-7 “On Amendments to Article 14.8 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation” introduced fines for officials and legal entities selling technically complex devices without pre-installed Russian software. The amount of these fines can reach 200 thousand rubles.

“Now only fines are provided for the lack of pre-installed software on digital equipment, but in future Russia will probably have a separate specification for devices with domestic programs before they enter the market,” concludes Sergei Polunin.


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