Sunday, August 3, 2014

Russia’s Proposal to Apple and SAP

A proposal has been made by Russia to Apple and SAP that they hand over the government access of their source code in order to ensure that their widely used products would not used as tools for spying on state institutions.

 The suggestion that these two world’s renowned technology companies could reveal some of their sensitive business secrets has come up as the United States and Europe have been debating on their most severe sanctions against Russian for its role in Ukraine.

Recently, the United States forced a new round of sanction affecting three Russian banks which included the country’s second biggest VTB. An agreement was reached with the European Union, recently on its first broad economic sanctions, marking a new phase in one of the biggest debates between Moscow and the West since this confrontation.

Last week when Communication Minister Nikolai Nikiforov met Apple’s general manager in Russia, along with Peter Engrob Nielsen and the Russian managing director of SAP, Vyacheslav Orekhov, the Russian proposal was put forward, as stated by the Communication Ministry.

It was stated that the proposal had been designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as corporate users to the privacy of their personal data and also for the security of the state.

Major Threat to Viability

With regards to issue of protecting privacy, any Russian move to force these companies to disclose the inner workings of their software could create a major threat to their viability should they lose control of the source code.

According to Nikiforov’s statement released recently, he states that, `Edward Snowden’s revelation in 2013 and US intelligence service’s public statements about strengthening of surveillance of Russia in 2014, have raised serious questions of trust in foreign software and hardware’.

He had made a reference to the bombshell disclosures by the former US National Security Agency contractor who had disclosed the widespread NSA snooping by eavesdropping on the popular technology products and services. Experts, since then have arrived at a conclusion that the US government-backed standards for software encryption, has given rise to backdoors for the NSA to indulge in spying on users.

Nations – Revise Technology Practices 

Governments from China to India to Germany to Brazil and many other nations are trying to revise technology practices due to the NSA revelation though most of them refrain from asking the technology companies to disclose their source code and source code is the crown jewels for any maker of software.

Most of the major commercial software companies tend to guard the code as their most prized possession. Apple which is the world’s most renowned and reputed company, by market capitalisation, is popular for its distinctive varieties of computer and phone devices which it tries to stand out by closely guarding its proprietary software.

SAP on the other hand is the world’s fourth largest manufacturer of business software by revenue and Germany’s major technology company providing business planning software which several top multinational companies consider in maintaining financial control of their far scattered operations and keeps close guard over the source code of their products. Both SAP and Apple have refrained from commenting on this issue.

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