Kaspersky Lab lawsuits against US thrown out

A judge says neither lawsuit has a leg to stand on. The US government's ban on the company's software will remain.

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A judge ruled that the US government's ban on Kaspersky software in federal agencies is constitutional. 

Kirill Kudryavtsev / Getty Images

Two Kaspersky Lab lawsuits against the US government were dismissed Wednesday, halting the Russian software company's attempt to avoid a ban on its products by US agencies.  

In September, Kaspersky's products were banned from US federal agencies over concerns the firm could be vulnerable to Russian government influence. Kaspersky then filed the suits, one in December and another in February, saying the bans were unconstitutional and that they caused the company undue harm. 

On Wednesday, a judge ruled that the ban is constitutional. It takes effect on Oct. 1.

"These defensive actions may very well have adverse consequences for some third-parties," US District Judge for the District of Columbia Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote in her opinion. "But that does not make them unconstitutional."

Kollar-Kotelly said the "theoretical harm" to Kaspersky's reputation is "too vague and unsubstantiated," and that the company's claim that it has a "right to sell to the government" is "worthless."

"To 'sell' requires another to 'buy,'" she wrote. "Because no government agency would buy Plaintiffs' product in the period before October 1, 2018, Plaintiffs' theoretical 'right' to sell has no value at all in the real world."

In a statement, a Kaspersky representative said the company is "disappointed with the court's decisions," and that it will "vigorously pursue our appeal rights." Kaspersky maintains that the US government's ban was the "product of unconstitutional agency and legislative processes and unfairly targeted the company."

"Given the lack of evidence of wrongdoing by the company and the imputation of malicious cyber activity by nation-states to a private company, these decisions have broad implications for the global technology community," the Kaspersky representative said. "Policy prohibiting the US government's use of Kaspersky Lab products and services actually undermines the government's expressed goal of protecting federal systems from the most serious cyber threats."

The Department of Homeland Security's Chris Krebs says the binding operational directive that ordered federal agencies to stop using Kaspersky software "was issued after careful consideration and was based on the risk Kaspersky-branded products presented to these systems."

"We are pleased with today's court decision and will continue to do everything in our power, working with federal agencies, to safeguard the government's information systems and networks," said Krebs, who is the senior official performing the duties of the undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate.

First published May 30, 12:33 p.m. PT
Update, 3:09 p.m.: Adds comment from Kaspersky.
Update, 4:43 p.m.: Adds comment from the Department of Homeland Security.

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