The revelations of Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the US’ National Security Agency, made it clear that the US government was wriggling its way into all major operating systems for smartphones and computers, to spy on popular personalities and access intelligence and government data of other countries. Quite a few governments globally are considering building their own customized operating systems, smartphones and PC software, which will hopefully be more secure. In September, we had reported on the Chinese government pushing for a China Operating System (Read here). Now, it is Russia’s turn.

The Russian ministry of communications has confirmed to the financial newspaper RBC that it is planning to build its own mobile operating system (OS) in collaboration with Jolla, the company behind the Sailfish OS.

The main reason behind the initiative is to reduce dependence on Western technology and the need to keep data—user and government—secure and, hopefully, away from the prying eyes of governments of other nations. But what is not being said is how the Russian government plans to deploy the OS. Will only the government use these supposedly more secure phones? Or, will consumers be able to buy them off the shelf, in stores?

Also, while there is no information yet if people will be forced to use phones running this new OS, it cannot be ruled out that the government will manipulate the market to ensure more people end up using the phone they want them to use—you walk into a store, and your favourite iPhone, Android phone and BlackBerry aren’t available or the phones with the new OS are way cheaper, chances are you will walk out with the phone the government wants you to buy in the first place.

We do not yet know the name of the new OS, but it is confirmed that it will not be a variant of Sailfish—it will be a completely new product.

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