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Friday, 02 February 2018 09:32

US panel says DHS must tell all about Kaspersky ban

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A US Congress committee has said it will issue a subpoena to the Department of Homeland Security if the latter does not provide its reasons for imposing a ban on software products from Kaspersky Lab. The request was made last year.

The DHS had cited pending litigation by the company as its reason for not having met the demand from the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, made on 5 December.

Last month, Kaspersky Lab said that "it is seeking an appeal in federal court of US Department of Homeland Security’s decision on Binding Operational Directive 17-01 banning the use of the company’s products in federal agencies".

The company said it had "filed an appeal under the Administrative Procedure Act to enforce its constitutional due process rights and challenge the Binding Operational Directive prohibiting the use of the company’s products and solutions by US government agencies".

Republican lawmaker Lamar Smith, the chairman of the committee, wrote to Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of the DHS, pointing out that while the department had claimed that it would not be providing any further details due to the pending litigation, it was not a basis for declining to comply with the request for information and documents.

Smith gave the DHS time until 8 February to comply with the panel's request. Else, he warned, the committee would "consider use of the compulsory process to obtain the information".

He said the panel had been tracking the progress in the government of implementation of the September ban on the use of Kaspersky software in the US Government, adding that the information sought from the DHS was necessary to keep on top of this process.

The US ban came in the wake of allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential elections.

There have been mainstream media reports claiming that Kaspersky was involved in spying activity.

A report in The Wall Street Journal on 11 October hinted that Kaspersky Lab could have made available its source code to the Russian Government. The same paper kicked off the year with a long piece detailing all the claims made in the past.

Prior to that, a report in the Washington Post on 10 October claimed that Israeli Government information security professionals had found NSA hacking tools in Kaspersky Lab's system when it gained access to the company's servers in 2014.

Kaspersky Lab has now closed its offices in Washington DC.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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