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- Russia Bans Apple Products for Top Officials Citing Espionage Fears
Russia Bans Apple Products for Top Officials Citing Espionage Fears
Apple Banned in Russian Government
As international tensions heighten, thousands of elite Russian officials and state employees are being forced to bid farewell to their Apple gadgets, due to fears they could serve as clandestine surveillance tools for Western intelligence agencies. From Monday, July 17, Russia's corridors of power may witness a surge of green text messages, as the iPhone becomes persona non grata.
According to a Financial Times report, Russia’s trade minister announced the impending ban, which encompasses an array of Apple products, from iPhones and iPads to laptops.
This decree extends previous restrictions established by Russia's digital development ministry and Rostec, the state-owned defense conglomerate. Kremlin staff working on Vladimir Putin’s 2024 presidential re-election campaign have also been urged to avoid using various US-developed smartphones earlier this year due to similar espionage apprehensions.
Apple did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
While the ban's primary focus will be on the use of Apple devices for work-related correspondence, officials can, reportedly, continue to use the devices for personal matters. The new rules could see the rise of a curious scene, as per the Times: Russian officials juggling multiple phones during their daily routines to comply with the new mandate. Others, preferring to bypass the inconvenience, may shift to using an array of less impressive, government-approved devices powered by the Russian-made Aurora operating system.
"The FSB [Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation] has long been concerned about the use of iPhones for professional contacts, but the presidential administration and other officials opposed [restrictions] simply because they liked iPhones," Andrey Soldatov, a Russian security and intelligence services expert, told the Financial Times.
Last month, Russian intelligence leveled accusations against the US National Security Agency (NSA) alleging the hacking of thousands of Russian-owned iPhones, including those used by foreign diplomats stationed in Russia. FSB officials claim that Apple offers US intelligence agencies a "wide range of opportunities to monitor any persons of interest."
However, Russian authorities are yet to furnish clear evidence supporting their allegations of a US conspiracy. For its part, Apple has publicly denied the accusations, stating to the Times, it "has never worked with any government to build a backdoor into any Apple product, and never will."