Intel bullied Russia over import laws

A leaked document from the American Embassy in Moscow has revealed that Intel threatened Russia in order to receive a waiver on Russia’s encryption importation laws.

The cable, which was leaked as part of the latest round of documents from Wikileaks, details some “classified” and “confidential” information regarding Intel’s relationship with Russia, where it was revealed it received a waiver to import 1,000 encrypted platforms for software development, despite Russian laws prohibiting such importations.

The document reads: “Intel was able to by-pass the cumbersome licensing process by engaging in high-level lobbying and capitalizing on Russia’s desire to become a ‘knowledge-based’ economy.”

In other words, Intel threatened to withdraw from Russia if it did not gets its own way, which was to  by-pass the country’s own laws, which usually require any encrypted platforms to be laboratory analysed and approved by the Federal Security Bureau.

Intel told Russian authorities, including President Medvedev, that at least 200 of Intel’s 1,000 Russian employees would be laid off if it did not secure the waiver. It also threatened to withdraw its Russia R&D work and move it to China or India instead if the country did not cooperate.

The US Embassy commented on Intel’s securing of the waiver, saying it “does not appear to represent a breakthrough in the importation of commercial products with cryptographic content,” something that the US has been calling for. 

This was simply a one-time waiver that only applied to Intel, but the cable reveals that Intel believed it was a breakthrough and that other IT companies could “piggy-back” on it.