Kaspersky Lab Sues U.S. Government, Calls Ban ‘Legislative Punishment’

Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab has filed a lawsuit targeting the second of two federal bans on its products. The latest suit goes after language in a defense law explicitly blocking the purchase of Kaspersky products. An earlier suit targets a Homeland Security directive doing the same, Law reports.

With Washington reluctant to impose additional sanctions on Russia, White House Cyber czar Rob Joyce pointed to Kaspersky as an example of the Trump administration taking Russia seriously. While Kaspersky isn’t alleged to be involved in the election hacks of 2016, it’s hard not to see the actions against the firm in the context of deteriorated relations with Moscow, as part of a growing spat between the two countries.

At the center of the Kaspersky, bans are fears Russia could use its products in espionage operations. Media reports suggest U.S. intelligence believe this has already happened when spies reconfigured the malware detection feature of Kaspersky antivirus to search for classified documents. That has never been confirmed by the U.S. government and the company denies witting involvement in any such scheme.

Kaspersky argues, in a Monday filing in D.C. federal court, that the defense authorization serves as an unconstitutional “bill of attainder,” a law targeted specifically at an individual or small group.

The company has denied having any ties to Russian intelligence. In its filing Monday, it said it has never been convicted of a crime or been subject to an adverse judicial finding.

“Nor is there any compelling reason to even suspect the company of a crime,” Fayhee wrote. “In fact, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials testifying before Congress have expressly stated that there is no conclusive evidence that Kaspersky Lab has ever facilitated a breach of government information systems.”

Kaspersky’s request for a preliminary injunction blocking the DHS directive is pending before Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The company filed a brief supporting the preliminary injunction request on Monday.