News:

Wikipedia with 'reliable' Russian equivalent and President Putin's Russian apps on smartphones, TVs and PCs

President Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed the creation of an online "Russian encyclopedia" with "reliable information" to replace Wikipedia after signing legislation that bans the sale of smartphones, computers and Smart TVs without Russian apps pre-installed.

On the Newly signed legislation, the law will come into force on July 1st of next year before which the Russian government would have create a list of Russian applications that must be pre-installed on various devices, according to Reuters. The President's expected signing of the law comes a little more than a week after the Russian Duma passed the bill.

When the bill goes into effect by July, the likes of Apple, Google, Samsung, and other foreign electronics giants, will seek to give Russian companies a leg up in the domestic market and allow them to gain a foothold against their larger foreign competitors.

Putin's newly signed law will help Russian developers in no small measure to better compete with the foreign tech firms that currently dominate in the nation and exonerating the unsophisticated users, including senior citizens, from the need to install apps.

The backers of the law also believe it will raise public awareness about Russian developers.

On Wikipedia, Russian leader while meeting with Russian Language Council in Kremlin on Tuesday said, "It's better to replace it with a Big Russian new encyclopedia in electronic form...here it will be in any case, reliable information in a good modern form," Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted him as saying.

A draft law issued in September by the Ministry of Digital Development, Telecommunications and Mass Media had already floated the idea of an online Russian encyclopedia, proposing to allocate 1.7 billion rubles (€24 million) from the 2020-2021 budget to the endeavour.

Putin's comments come a week after the "Law on Sovereign Internet" came into effect allowing the authorities to disconnect the country's Internet users from the global network.

Both of the ideas have been heavily criticized:

The bill signed into law was criticized by electronic retailers, who said they were never consulted on it. Others fear that it could even force tech companies like Apple out of the country. "A mandate to add third-party applications to Apple's ecosystem would be equivalent to jailbreaking," an Apple source told Kommersant. "It would pose a security threat, and the company cannot tolerate that kind of risk."

Moreover, the law has stoked fears that Russia could use apps to spy on its citizensas the country just recently passed a "sovereign internet law" that gives the government power to block access to web content in any situation it deems to be an "emergency."

Human Rights Watch said the internet blocking bill "is bad news for Russia and creates a dangerous precedent for other countries." Depending on which apps the government forces on users, the same could apply to the latest bill.

The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) NGO has heavily criticized the new legislation for violating human rights standards including freedom of expression and of the press.

"The law creates the conditions for the Russian authorities to isolate Russia from parts of the Internet. In the future, the authorities could potentially shut down access throughout Russia to certain Internet providers, for example, or to all international data traffic or even to data traffic within Russia," it noted in a statement.

"In this way, the government hopes to be able to block prohibited content and platforms more effectively than before," it added.

Russia is raked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF's latest annual World Press Freedom Index.


Sources: Engadget / Euronews

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