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Intel strong-arm tactics in Russia WikiLeaked

HardwareNews
by Staff Writer
, 05 Dec 2010News

Chip maker Intel threatened to pull its research and development operations from Russia unless it was allowed to use impenetrable encryption systems to keep ins secrets away from Russian eyes.

Intel threatened to relocate to India or China in a spat with the Russians last year, according to a cable published on Wikileaks.

It seems that back in 2006 Russia agreed to simplify rules for the importation of "items containing cryptographic information" from the US, according to the cable. But it hasn't. "Nearly three years later, progress in meeting the terms of this agreement has been slow and its results minimal," the cable notes.

Intel wanted to equip 1000 of its software engineers with encrypted development kits, whihc it deemed necessary to its IP safe from prying eyes. But Russia wouldn't countenance the move until Intel played hardball, the cables reveal.

"Intel's advocates emphasised that if Intel could not quickly import these development kits, there would be no programming work available and Intel would have to lay off over 200 engineers," the cable dated 2009-11-03 and marked "Confidential" notes. "In addition, R&D work in Russia would have to move to India or China."

According to the cable, "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."

Hopes that Intel's breakthrough would mean that other cryptographic systems might be allowed into Russia were dashed however.

"This waiver does not appear to represent a breakthrough in the importation of commercial products with cryptographic content," staffers at the US Embassy in Moscow note. "Russia continues to operate under the old regulations; proposed new regulations do not meet the terms of the 2006 U.S.- Russia side agreement on cryptography."

Obviously, diplomatic staff have quite an interest in being able to get hold of cryptographic equipment.

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