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July 31, 2014

Russia acts tough; asks to see SAP and Apple source code

Putin wants to check for spies hiding in-code-nito.

By CBR Staff Writer

Russia has demanded to check Apple and SAP’s source code for spies, in the latest example of straining tensions between President Putin and Western nations.

The proposal by Russian communication minister Nikolai Nikiforov comes in the wake of new sanctions being considered by the US and Europe against Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis.

The official note from the meeting between Nikiforov and senior officials of Apple and SAP 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.

"Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 and US intelligence services’ public statements about the strengthening of surveillance of Russia in 2014 have raised a serious question of trust in foreign software and hardware."

Nikiforov added that any firm not willing to divulge its source code secrets may be hiding "undeclared capabilities".

Microsoft has shared the code of its Windows operating systems and products since 2003 with Atlas, a technology institution that reports to the Russian communications industry.

SAP and Apple face losing Russian government contracts if they don’t share the code.

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Both companies have so far declined to comment on the matter.

Since Edward Snowden blew the whistle on NSA’s spying programme, governments of various countries have been challenging technology companies to come clean about their privacy practices.

Relations between Russia and the Western world are increasingly coming under strain because of the former’s role in Ukraine.

This week itself, the US imposed a new round of sanctions, hitting three Russian banks, including the country’s second-biggest, VTB. EU also imposed its first broad economic sanctions.

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