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Putin bans Apple!

Posted by on November 6, 2014.

Watch for the headlines in the western press over the next few days: Putin retaliates over western sanctions by banning Apple.

That’s not quite what is happening. It is true that as things stand Russians will not be able to use iPhones and iPads from 1 January 2015 — but that’s not because Apple has been banned. It is an effect of Russia’s privacy laws: Russian data needs to be stored in Russia. The problem, then, is not so much Apple per se, but iCloud in particular. iCloud’s servers are in the US; and the close tie between Apple devices and iCloud make it a legal problem.

There would be an easy solution if Apple were to use Russian servers — but since this could not be done now before 1 January 2015, that date has been given as the cut-off point. Ubergizmo notes this reality:

There’s a simple way to get around this ban. The companies in question can set up servers in Russia and store data of the country’s users within their country.

But it then makes the strange comment,

…it goes without saying that this will set a very bad precedent and companies wouldn’t want to indulge in such selective behaviour.
Russia To Ban The iPhone And iPad On January 1st, 2015

I see no reason why they shouldn’t do so, and many reasons why they should. It’s no different in principle to Microsoft telling the European Union that it will store all European data in Europe.

Nevertheless I have little doubt that the popular press will slant this as unreasonable behaviour by Putin. But is it? While Apple is encrypting data on devices in a way that the data cannot be accessed by government agencies, it is not doing so with iCloud data. All of this data, with or without the help of the PATRIOT Act, is readily accessible by the US government. All Putin is doing is protecting the personal data of Russian citizens from western spies.

In reality, his Russian laws are little different to European laws. The fact that the NSA can and does access European personal data stored on servers in the US means that the US is in breach of European regulations. The logical extension is that use of Apple devices (and Twitter and Facebook etcetera) should be banned in Europe. The only real difference between Russia and Europe is that Putin will actually insist on the implications of Russian laws.

But where the US is concerned, European politicians are more interested in soft shoe political shuffles than legal realities — for the US, Europe dances like a bee and stings like a butterfly.


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Submitted in: News, News_cloud, News_legal, News_politics, News_privacy | Tags: , ,