Russian Regulators To Crack Down On US Big Tech In 2020

New Russian protectionist legislation takes aim at U.S. Big Tech companies as additional laws are being prepped to restrict content.

According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR), all computers and mobile devices sold in Russia are required to have preinstalled Russian software effective July 1.

Apple is among the many U.S. tech companies that are opposed to having to preinstall the Yandex Russian web browser and other apps, which would require additional licensing and development fees.

Google, Samsung and Dell joined Apple and the Association of Trading Companies and Manufacturers of Household Electrical Equipment and Computers (RATEK) in petitioning Russian authorities to drop the restrictions.

“The initiative is potentially harmful to the market. It will hit consumers, electronics manufacturers and software developers alike,” a spokesman for the association told THR on Dec. 29. “Specifically, manufacturers will suffer as operational systems of some of them are not suitable for external applications, and even those who potentially can preinstall local apps will have to pay sizable license fees.”

Under Russian legislation, global streaming services like Netflix and Apple TV+ would also face restrictions.

“At this point, we don’t see Apple TV+ as a competitor, since they have a totally different content policy and audience,” Elena Khlebnikova, a content director at the Russian-based video service tvzavr, said in a statement.

Any services that jeopardize the Russian market could be banned or face government restrictions, which limit foreign-owned streaming services to 20 percent of users.

Facebook and Twitter are already violating older legislation that requires the personal data of Russian citizens to be stored in Russia, and were also accused of publishing anti-Kremlin content. When LinkedIn refused to comply, it was immediately blocked; Russian legislators are looking to block Facebook and Twitter in the same manner.

The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) in Russia has opened a probe into hospitality and reservation site Booking.com over anti-competition issues. According to the regulator, Booking.com asked other hotels and hostels to list the same prices on other reservation sites as it does on its own site. If the FAS finds that Booking.com is in breach of anti-competition laws, the company faces a fine of between 1 percent and 15 percent of all the revenue it generates in the country.