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Russia to SAP, Apple: Hand over source code to prove you're not spies

And they'd get away with it too, if weren't for that meddling Snowden

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Russia has asked SAP and Apple to hand over their products' source code so it can be tested for spyware.

The nation's Ministry of Communications and Mass Media announced the request on Wednesday.

The shrinkwrapped statement sees Communications minister Nikolai Nikiforov citing the revelations from rogue NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the agency's spying activities on foreign governments. The minister said Snowden's leaks proved Microsoft had happily allowed inspection of its source code.

He said Apple and SAP should do likewise for the following reasons:

“It is obvious that those companies that disclose the source code of their programs, not hiding anything, but those who did not intend to cooperate with Russia on this issue may have undeclared capabilities in their products.”

There's also a veiled threat that vendors who don't submit for testing may find “the use of such software and hardware in public companies or budget projects remains uncertain, because they themselves state customers will abandon the untested product in favour of trusted solutions.”

Microsoft has apparently already gone through this process and emerged unscathed, at least in terms of Russia's opinion of its products. Redmond was presumably satisfied that the process the ministry uses to investigate source code didn't provide opportunities for industrial espionage.

SAP and Apple haven't said how they intend to respond to Russia's requests.

Of late, Russia has regularly tested its relationship with western technology companies. In early July it decided data on Russian citizens must be stored on Russian soil, a decision with obvious implications for the likes of Google and Facebook. The nation has also suggested it will bake its own 64-bit ARM chippery for government users, instead of relying on x86s.

This new request also hints at a preference for home-grown products if foreign software is seen to represent a risk to Russia.

China's thinking along similar lines, too, after banning Windows 8 on security grounds.

What hath Snowden wrought? ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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