Russia requires citizens to install Israeli ICQ on smartphones

Moscow said all smart products sold in Russia as official imports must include certain local applications and software, including the Israeli ICQ.

Close up of a man using mobile smart phone (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Close up of a man using mobile smart phone
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Due to US sanctions, the Russian government said that starting in 2023, every smartphone, tablet, smart TV and laptop sold in Russia via official imports must come with specific local software and applications, RIA reported.

Moscow established a list of software from the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) that included: The old Israeli messaging service ICQ; the Marusya voice assistant and the Mail.ru email service.

In addition, all laptops will have the Yandex internet browser and Kaspersky antivirus software and each smart TV will have VK Video and Rutube (similar to YouTube), in addition to state TV streaming services.

This comes as the Internet and TV in Russia are expected to become 10-15% more expensive in 2023. It was reported earlier that some people in Russia have begun charging to download certain smartphone applications that are otherwise inaccessible in the country, such as banking apps, for 2,000 rubles (around NIS 95).

What is ICQ, the old Israeli messaging platform?

In 1998, at the very height of its success, ICQ was sold for $407 million to AOL, at the time one of the fastest-growing US Internet providers. However, in 2010, ICQ was sold to Russia's Digital Sky Technologies (DST) for $187.5 million due to a decline in popularity and competition from Microsoft.

 ICQ (credit: Wikimedia Commons) ICQ (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

DST later would close the firm's Israeli development center.