Russia tells Apple it wants to check its source code for spying

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Steve Jobs

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Steve Jobs

As the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War continues to unfold, Russian officials have proposed that Apple hand the government access to its entire source code, just to make sure there aren’t any spying bugs in it.

Russia’s Communication Minister, Nikolai Nikiforov, proposed that both Apple and SAP give the government unprecedented access to their software source code to ensure the companies’ popular products aren’t really spy tools that are extracting secrets from state institution.

Citing the country’s decade long cooperation with Microsoft who has shared Windows XP’s source code since 2003, the ministry said any prospect of state companies using software and hardware from producers who don’t share their source code remains uncertain.

“Obviously, companies which disclose the source code of their programmes are not hiding anything, but those who do not intend to establish cooperation with Russia on this issue may have undeclared capabilities in their products,” Nikiforov said.

Nikiforov met with Apple’s general manager in Russia, Peter Engrob Nielsen, as well as SAP’s managing director last week, claiming the proposal is designed to make sure consumers and corporate users’ privacy rights have not been violated, as well as to look after state security interests.

The proposal that two of the world’s top tech companies disclose some of their most sensitive business secrets to the Russian government comes right as the U.S. and Europe debate their harshest sanctions against Russian that were just imposed on Tuesday.

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Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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