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Apple vs. Russia

Published by marco on

Apple bent its rules for Russia—and other countries will take note by Lily Hay Newman (Ars Technica)

“Questions remain about whether Russia’s end goal is to completely isolate and disconnect its Internet from the wider world or whether the government prefers a hybrid network. But from the Kremlin’s perspective, the opportunity to promote certain apps on iOS is a boon either way.

“Apple could have simply allowed Russia to pre-install whatever apps it wanted on iOS devices, but the company also could have taken a radical stand against such interference. Instead, it found a middle ground, one that other countries may well seize on to suit their own autocratic interests.

This is written by a woman who lives in the country that already controls all of the companies that make all of the apps on every phone around the world. It’s sad that she can’t even imagine why another country would think it’s not a great idea to let that stand unchallenged, especially when the U.S. is so heavily politicizing its software right now.

Those dastardly autocratic Russians—forcing U.S. companies to allow them to ask their citizens if they’d like to install non-U.S. propaganda on their phones. Obviously, no Russian will install state software, though, right? I dunno. Probably Yandex? Or Telegram?

She did later write:

“From both an economic and national security standpoint, it’s understandable to a degree that governments would want to promote domestic software to their own citizens. But in practice, the Internet’s growing balkanization is eroding Internet freedom worldwide and undermining the entire concept of a decentralized, global web.”

“Balkanization” meaning the 100% control by U.S. firms is eroding somewhat. But not much. But enough that it can elicit pants-shitting terror and projection on an international scale, accusing the Russians of trying to do what we’ve been doing all along.

Just listen to how this is written:

“The situation with Russia’s mandatory apps is not the first time Apple has faced invasive legal requirements from an authoritarian government—nor the first time the company has conceded to these demands.”

This from a woman living in a country that is considering broadening the already-existing requirements to force backdoors into secure software. A country whose NSA already did that and continues to do that all the time. In Europe, they’re trying to do the same thing. Again. But these efforts are called “promoting democracy” instead of “authoritarian”. It matters who’s trying to do it, right? And that’s not even what Russia is doing: they just want Apple to ask their users if they would like to install some standard Russian software. They can just say no and continue on with their day. Nothing about making people worldwide do it, nothing about backdooring existing software, nothing about changing iOS.

“[…] the suggested apps aren’t pre-installed, and users can opt not to download them.”

That sounds pretty autocratic.