Russia asks Apple for source code to alleviate espionage concerns

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Russia’s Ministry of Communications and Mass Media has suggested that Apple, along with German tech giant SAP, open the source code for its software to ensure that it’s not enabling US intelligence agencies to spy on the country.

The request comes just a week after a security researcher accused Apple of building surveillance backdoors into iOS, and as the United States and Europe expand their sanctions on Moscow over Russia’s involvement in Ukraine affairs…

Reuters has comments from Russia’s Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov:

“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,” Nikiforov said in the statement released late on Tuesday.

“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 recently met with Peter Engrob Nielsen, Apple’s Russian GM, but there’s no word on how it went. It seems doubtful that Apple would handover the blueprints for its software, though Russia says Microsoft’s done it for years.

Since being named in Edward Snowden’s PRISM leak last summer, Apple has had to deal with growing privacy concerns from both users and governments. China recently called iOS 7’s location tracking feature a national security issue.

In a response to last week’s backdoor report, Apple said it’s “never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor” in any of its products or services. It also outlined previously unknown diagnostic capabilities.