Russia to Apple: All Your Code Are Belong to Us

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Russia doesn't trust the United States government or Apple, so it is asking for source code from the Mac, iPhone and iPad maker to look for clues showing the devices are being used to spy on its citizens and government officials. The country also wants source code from SAP citing privacy concerns.

Russia wants Apple's source codeRussia wants Apple's source code

The source code request came ahead of new sanctions from the U.S. and European Union over Russia's military involvement in the Ukraine. The code request came from Russia's Communications Minister last week when he met with Peter Engrob Nielsen, Apple's general sales manager for Russia, and Vyacheslav Orekhov, SAP's managing director in the country, according to Reuters.

Both Apple and SAP are highly protective of their code and won't hand it over without a fight, especially to a government that could potentially lose control over it, or turn the code into its own spying system. Resisting the Russian government's request, however, could lead to sanctions blocking the companies from selling their products in the country.

While part of the Russia's actions may be in retaliation to the U.S. and E.U. sanctions, the government has also voiced concerns over agressive NSA spying following the leaked documents from Edward Snowden. Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov drove those concerns home saying,

Edward Snowden's revelations in 2013 and U.S. intelligence services' public statements about the strengthening of surveillance of Russia in 2014 have raised a serious question of trust in foreign software and hardware.

According to the Snowden documents, U.S. tech companies have been providing the government with back doors into their software for covert data collection on a massive scale. Many companies, including Apple, have openly denied participating in any government data collection programs, but that isn't enough to ease the minds of Russian officials.

Should Apple and SAP refuse to had over their software code, Russia has hinted that it might block the sale of their products in the country, but hasn't openly said that's what it intends to do.

Apple and SAP have not commented on Russia's request.

The Mac Observer Spin The Mac Observer Spin is how we show you what our authors think about a news story at quick glance. Read More →

Targeting Apple and SAP with the code request makes sense considering both are high profile companies that are unlikely to cooperate. That may be exactly what Russian officials are hoping for, or they may simply be posturing by naming popular and well known companies.

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Lee Dronick

From a country that is currently being led by an ex KGB Officer.


I know it’s a pipe dream, but every US company should pull out of Russia. Pack up and leave. Hit the self-destruct button as your plane takes off.

Nothing good will come of Putin’s plunge into autocratic rule. He’s out of control.


As a quid pro quo, could Russia give Apple the codes to the Russian nuclear arsenal ?

No, I didn’t think so…..  grin


Another thought.

If the Russian authorities are so paranoid about their Apple devices giving away state secrets, then the answer is ?

DONT USE APPLE DEVICES. Really it’s a no brainer…


Apple: “I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request.”

Russia: “What?”

Apple: “It means nyet.”


Apple to Russia:  “No soup for you!”


Russia should really be looking at the broken Android market that is vulnerable to everything and a much bigger market share if they are worried about security. Apple already responded to China so I would expect the same. I don’t think right now we can trust Russia because of its behavior lately.


They really want to use it to exploit iOS vulnerabilities so they can spy on people IN THE WEST. Telephone intercepts and other info from the iPhones and iPads of a few top scientists, officials, CEOs, and military brass could be quite useful.


Figuring out how SAP works would keep ‘em occupied ....


So was it a request, an order, or an offer Apple can’t refuse?

Regardless, Apple cannot honor this.  Apple should pull out of Russia quickly & without any regrets of there are no other options.


I suggest that Putin can bid for the next charity dinner with Tim Cook, and if he wins and comes, Tim Cook will show him the source code. I mean the server in Apple’s headquarters holding all the source code.


Lol Lancashire-Witch, ain’t that the truth!! I left my company that uses SAP and don’t miss it a bit!!

Paul Goodwin

In addition to giving them the same answer as Apple have China, remind them that with their sales tax rate of 18% of all Russian sales, their government can’t afford not to have Apple selling in their country.

This is all political posturing over the sanctions. They have no intentions of stopping their people from buying Apple products.


Just nuke ‘em.


Uh, NFW. ‘



Putin: We want you to hand over your source code.

Cook: I’m sorry, what was that?

Putin: Your source code, we want it.

Cook: Why is that?

Putin: We need to assure ourselves that American spies are not collecting illegal information on Russian citizens.

Cook: Well, how is our source code going to help you do that?

Putin: We have top people. They can prove anything we need them to from anything we give them.

Cook: Prove? You’re going to prove something or ascertain the facts?

Putin: Facts are relative. I typically find them inconvenient. No, we’re going to prove that American tech companies are aiding the American government to spy on Russian citizens. In Russia.

Cook: Well, if you’re going to accuse us anyway, why should we give you our source code? Would you agree to do that?

Putin: Nyet.

Cook: So why should we?

Putin: Because we asked you nicely. We can ask you not so nicely.

Cook: Look, just give your people something already in the public domain, like our statements on user privacy.

Putin: Because it looks better when we convict you of assisting American spies if we can say that we got it from the source code.

Cook: Well, if you’ve already decided that American tech companies are helping to spy on Russian nationals, why not start with a tech company whose business model is all about collecting and selling user data. We sell hardware. Facebook and Google sell user data. Why not start with them? Wouldn’t that make more sense?

Putin: Yes, it would. But this is not about sense. It’s about sensibility.

Cook: Sensibility?

Putin: Yes, sensibility, in the classical animal sensory sense.

Cook: Explain.

Putin: We squeeze you, American White House will feel it in their balls.

Cook: I see. Well, you’ve got balls too. Some pretty big ones, given your request. How about we squeeze your balls first.

Putin: Explain.

Cook: American White House and the EU are increasing their sanctions, right?

Putin: Yes.

Cook: Your economy is heading for recession, yes?

Putin: Yes. So what? We’re a kleptocracy. Plenty of big companies to here to liquidate.

Cook: We pull Apple out of Russia. No premium Apple goods to fuel consumer spending. A boatload of Russians lose jobs in retail, peripherals, and services - say a few thousand good to high paying jobs, depending. And because we are high profile, other high end business, particularly retailers, also pull out. Your economy tanks. Your oligarchs flee (at those who still have a passports and country to take them), and your little kleptocracy goes belly up with nothing left to nick, and who knows, you might find yourself on the short end of a coup, a coup you won’t be able to so much as tweet about because, guess what, no working smart phones. How does that feel?

Putin: Sounds like you’re telling me to, how do you Americans say it, @#%* off.

Cook: In a word, yes.

Putin: A pity. I’ll think about it. Any chance you’ll be flying over Russian airspace anytime soon?

Cook: Ah, no.

Putin: Didn’t think so. Just asking. Okay, so long. And…be careful.

Cook: So long, and be smart.


Very nicely played, wab95

Paul Goodwin

Haha wab95.


Where are the three main phone OS made? In the good old USA!

They don’t trust us? Irrelevant.

Their alternative? Go back to the cave.

Who cares anyway…


the question is whether Apple and SAP engaged in illegal spying activities in a foreign country, whether Russia or other European countries and breaking local laws. This is not too dissimilar from UBS swiss bank who broke US law by sending its employees to the US to help US citizen evade tax. They were caught, convicted and fined massive amounts.


@snowmobile: You are wrong. The problem is that Russia needs help with two major software developments: The first Russian desktop operating system, called RussOS XI, and the first Russian mobile phone and table operating system, called kOS 9. Both quite similar, but also quite advanced, compared to MacOS X and iOS 8. Advanced as you can see by the higher version number.

Lee Dronick

And there is this story

A new law imposing restrictions on users of social media has come into effect in Russia.

It means bloggers with more than 3,000 daily readers must register with the mass media regulator, Roskomnadzor, and conform to the regulations that govern the country’s larger media outlets.

Internet companies will also be required to allow Russian authorities access to users’ information.


@gnasher729: You start sour sentence with “you are wrong” but you do not explain where or how. The article is about source code and spying allegations not about whether Russia needs help with software development.  The core question this article highlights is whether Apple and SAP have spying capabilities or backdoors embedded into their source code that enables them to engage in illegal data gathering (spying) in foreign countries. This is the question every world citizen wants answered.


@snowmobile: If that’s what you think is the reason, then you don’t have a clue about politics, and especially not about the kind of politics that Putin is playing.

And excuse me, but if there were any backdoors in Apple’s software (chances are about zero), and if Apple handed over the source code to Russia (changes are not about zero, but exactly zero), there would be no chance that the source code for any backdoor would be in the code that gets handed over.

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