Russia demands Apple must set itself up in the country by the end of 2021

What you need to know

  • Russia is demanding that Apple and twelve other companies be "officially represented on Russian soil."
  • The order is for each company to establish its presence in the country by the end of 2021.
  • Companies that do not comply could face "advertising, data collection and money transfer restrictions, or outright bans."

Russia is cracking down again on foreign technology companies.

Russia is demanding that Apple set up a physical presence in the country by the end of 2021.

As reported by Reuters, state communications regulator Roskomnadzor has demanded that thirteen foreign companies will need to be "officially represented on Russian soil" by the end of the year or potentially face a ban from the country altogether.

In addition to Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok are included in the demand.

Foreign social media giants with more than 500,000 daily usershave been obliged to open offices in Russia since a new law took effect on July 1. The list published on Monday names the companies for the first time.

It lists Alphabet's Google (GOOGL.O), Facebook (FB.O), Twitter (TWTR.N), TikTok and messaging app Telegram, all of which Russia has fined this year for failing to delete content it deems illegal.

Apple (AAPL.O), which Russia has targeted for alleged abuse of its dominant position in the mobile applications market, was also on the list.

According to Roskomnadzor, companies that do not comply with the order could face "advertising, data collection and money transfer restrictions, or outright bans."

Apple does not currently have a physical presence in the country in terms of its popular retail stores.

Some speculate that it is a move by the government to promote technology companies from Russia over foreign companies. Others say that it is a move to extert more control over the companies when they operate in the country.

Russia has taken steps this year to support and promote its domestic tech sector over Silicon Valley alternatives, proposing taxes on foreign-owned digital services, tax cuts for domestic IT firms and requiring smartphones, computers and other devices bought in Russia to offer users Russian software on start-up.

The campaign also has a political dimension that critics characterise as an attempt by the Russian authorities to exert tighter control over the internet, something they say threatens to stifle individual and corporate freedom.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

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