Moscow Tech Firm Asks Court to Toss US Software Ban

(CN) – A Russian cybersecurity firm banned by the U.S. government over its alleged ties to the Kremlin asked a federal judge on Wednesday to overturn the Trump administration initiative because the move lacked due process.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a directive in September that banned the use of software developed by the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab and ordered its removal from systems on which it had already been installed.

In its directive, the department said Kaspersky’s software posed “information security risks” because it provided “broad access to files and elevated privileges on the computers on which the software is installed.”

“The Department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks,” the department said in a news release announcing the ban.

Federal agencies and departments were given until December to remove Kaspersky Lab’s software from their computers.

But in a 48-page filing with a federal judge in Washington, D.C., Kaspersky Lab said Wednesday that it did not receive proper notice about the government-wide order and was never given an opportunity to contest the “purported evidence” the department relied on to support its decision.

The department has maintained it based its decision on public documents including congressional testimony and newspaper reports. Among those reports were widely-circulated stories that said Russian intelligence officials used Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus software to steal classified information.

Ryan Fayhee, of Baker & McKenzie LLP in Washington, the attorney for the lab responded by challenging those stories, arguing they were based on “uncorroborated” anonymous sources.

The parties also differ on the basic notion of due process. DHS officials say they have Kaspersky Lab ample opportunity to respond to the ban in writing. Fayhee says that offer fell far short of the legal standard for due process.

“At the very least, the Fifth Amendment required DHS to give Plaintiffs notice and a meaningful opportunity to contest DHS’s ‘evidence’ before issuance of the BOD. No such notice or opportunity was afforded to Plaintiffs,” Wednesday’s filing states.

“Plaintiffs filed this action seeking rescission of the BOD, and now move for a preliminary injunction to stem the continuing significant damage to Kaspersky Lab’s reputation and the loss of sales resulting from the BOD,” it continues.

The company says the Trump administration’s actions have damaged its reputation and harmed its business.

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