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There’s no harm in asking, goes an old saying.

That’s what I thought when reading that Russia has asked Apple and SAP to let it peruse their source code to make sure their applications aren’t being used for spying. The account was revealed by Reuters, which noted it comes at a time when Western countries are ratcheting up their sanctions against Russia for supporting rebels in Ukraine.

The Russian proposal was made last week when Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov met Apple’s general manager in Russia, Peter Engrob Nielsen, and SAP’s Russian managing director, Vyacheslav Orekhov, Reuters said the Communications Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the proposal was designed to ensure the rights of consumers and corporate users to the privacy of their personal data, as well as for state security interests.

Right. No coincidence that it comes at a period of tension between Russia and the world.

It does bring to mind, though, the pressure that BlackBerry, Twitter, Skype and others have been under from several countries to hand over its encryption keys. Ultimately some sort of resolution was found.

Undoubtedly Apple and SAP will stoutly resist letting anyone go near their code. No one, they might point out, asks Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab to hand over its code.

Russia does have one card to play: According to the Reuters story, the government says Microsoft has been sharing Windows source code with Atlas, a technology institution that reports to the communications ministry.

What will be the fate of Apple and SAP if they don’t co-operate? Russia isn’t saying.

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  • David Pollock

    I really don’t know why these companies don’t tell countries like Russia – NO! Russia’s market can’t be that big to be of a financial risk to Apple. And in European markets etc. the pressure from the consumer on the government if the services were banned would wear away any insistence of compliance after a while. eg. Say Google refused the EU demands on the censorship (for that is what it is) of it’s searches and said no to the “Right to be Forgotten” ruling. What would the EU actually do? If they banned and blocked Google in the EU their population would revolt against the ban. I am of the opinion that the public majority could care less about the “Right to be Forgotten” issue and the decision was made to cater to a few very vocal complainers like a great deal of regulations.

  • koconor100

    Russia makes me laugh.

    On the one hand these people got caught with their pants down by edward snowden. It’s time to dump windows and anythign to do with the USA and move on to locally made (inside of russia) products.

    On the other hand , as those articles about the olympics might not be finished on time demonstrate … they can’t be bothered to actually pay their people their wages. They demand work , they pay nothing at all , and gosh no one shows up for work next wednesday.

    And there goes your locally built solution.

    Now you have to go back to the USA and find some way to scam from them the very product you don’t want.