Russian security products vendor Kaspersky has been added to the US Covered List which includes foreign companies that are considered to pose “an unacceptable risk to US national security”.
Two Chinese mobile companies, China Mobile (USA) and China Telecom (Americas), were also added to the list at the same time though the bans on these two entities were announced in May 2019 and October 2021 respectively.
Companies on this list are prohibited from receiving support through the FCC’s Universal Service Fund.
This is the third action against Kaspersky since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war on 24 February. About 10 days back, the German Federal Office of Information Security warned against the use of Kaspersky products.
And HackerOne, a company that acts as an intermediary between companies and security researchers and pays them bug bounties for their findings, removed Kaspersky on 16 March from the list of companies with which it does business.
In a statement, the Federal Communications Corporation commissioner Brendan Carr said on Friday: “The FCC’s decision to add these three entities to our Covered List is welcome news. The FCC plays a critical role in securing our nation’s communications networks, and keeping our Covered List up-to-date is an important tool we have at our disposal to do just that.
“In particular, I am pleased that our national security agencies agreed with my assessment that China Mobile and China Telecom appeared to meet the threshold necessary to add these entities to our list.
“Their addition, as well as Kaspersky, Labs [the company’s old name] will help secure our networks from threats posed by Chinese and Russian state-backed entities seeking to engage in espionage and otherwise harm America’s interests.”
Kaspersky said in a statement that it was disappointed with the FCC decision.
“This decision is not based on any technical assessment of Kaspersky products – that the company continuously advocates for – but instead is being made on political grounds,” the company said.
“Kaspersky maintains that the US Government’s 2017 prohibitions on federal entities and federal contractors from using Kaspersky products and services were unconstitutional, based on unsubstantiated allegations, and lacked any public evidence of wrongdoing by the company.
“As there has been no public evidence to otherwise justify those actions since 2017, and the FCC announcement specifically refers to the Department of Homeland Security’s 2017 determination as the basis for today’s decision, Kaspersky believes today’s expansion of such prohibition on entities that receive FCC telecommunication-related subsidies is similarly unsubstantiated and is a response to the geopolitical climate rather than a comprehensive evaluation of the integrity of Kaspersky’s products and services.
“Kaspersky will continue to assure its partners and customers on the quality and integrity of its products, and remains ready to cooperate with US government agencies to address the FCC’s and any other regulatory agency’s concerns.”
The company was hit with a ban on the use of its products in the US public sector a few years ago, after mainstream media had published a series of stories claiming it was leaking data to Russian intelligence services, something the company strongly denied.
Since then the firm has cut back operations in the US and set up so-called transparency centres where companies can sign up to look at the source code of its products.
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