Russian lawmakers are drafting a bill that would prohibit the use of Western antivirus products inside the country.
According to the proposed law, Russian officials will require that any computer produced or imported into the Eurasian Economic Union should use only "domestic" antivirus software. This means antivirus software created only in Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Russian news site RBC, who saw a draft of the upcoming legislation, said the law was presented to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, July 5. If approved, the law will come into effect by mid-2019.
Speaking to Russian news agency Meduza, ESET boss Denis Mateev said that foreign antivirus makers have no more than 5% of the Russian antivirus market, meaning the government's decision is purely political in nature, and won't have a big impact on foreign businesses.
While no Russian official will ever admit it, the proposed Russian legislation is a direct response to a US defense budget draft that was published last week, and which would prohibit US Department of Defense agencies (such as the Pentagon) from using the software of Russian antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab, starting next year.
A few days earlier, the FBI had also interviewed a dozen of Kaspersky employees working at the company's US offices.
Since May, US officials have been mulling an investigation into Kaspersky Lab activities in the US, citing possible "Russian government influence." An official investigation was never started, or at least never announced publicly.
Kaspersky, through the voice of its founder, denied any ties or influence from the Russian government, and offered to participate in any hearing, and even turn over his product's source code for inspection to US authorities.
In recent months, Russia has been putting barriers in front of foreign technology firms, to the advantage of local companies. Most recently, Russian officials asked tech giants to turn over their source code for inspection by Russian intelligence agents if they want to do business in the country. Some of these companies announced they would comply with the Russian government's request.