Federal Court Throws Kaspersky Lawsuits Against the US Government Ban
A Washington D.C. court has dismissed lawsuits filed by the Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab. The antivirus vendor had sued the Trump administration over banning the company’s products from government systems.
A federal law passed last year and a binding operational directive (BOD) issued by the Department of Homeland Security had directed federal agencies to remove Kaspersky products from their departments citing national security risk.
In response, Kaspersky had said that the Trump administration simply wanted “to be seen as reacting to the apparent Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.” It added that the company had unduly suffered and was unconstitutionally targeted by the US administration believing that the AV firm has links to the Kremlin.
Court throws both the lawsuits filed by Kaspersky
The US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in a 55-page ruling has dismissed both the lawsuits filed by Kaspersky, upholding the DHS directive and the legislation banning government offices from using Kaspersky Lab products. The ruling argues that the country has to take preventive actions against perceived threats even if these actions carry adverse consequences for some third-party companies.
“The law does not impose any form of historically recognized legislative punishment. It has an obvious and eminently reasonable nonpunitive purpose and, although the law has negative effects on Plaintiffs, those effects are not out of balance with the goal of protecting the Nation’s cybersecurity.”
The judge said that the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) “does not inflict ‘punishment’ on Kaspersky Lab,” and that it “eliminates a perceived risk to the Nation’s cybersecurity and, in so doing, has the secondary effect of foreclosing one small source of revenue for a large multinational corporation.”
“The United States government’s networks and computer systems are extremely important strategic national assets,” the judge explained (via Washington Times). “Threats to these systems are constantly expanding and evolving. Their security depends on the government’s ability to act swiftly against perceived threats and to take preventive action to minimize vulnerabilities. These defensive actions may very well have adverse consequences for some third-parties. But that does not make them unconstitutional.”
Reports had previously suggested that the Israeli intelligence community had informed the US government that Russians had used Kaspersky to look for classified files on US systems. Earlier this month, Kaspersky announced moving some of its customer data and core operations from Russia to Zurich to allay fears created by the US ban.