Kaspersky Lab plans to file an appeal in federal court challenging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ban on government agencies that use the company's software.
"One of the founding principles enshrined in the US Constitution, which I deeply respect, is due process: the opportunity to challenge any evidence and defend it before the government takes adverse action," wrote founder Eugene Kaspersky in an open letter published on Monday.
"Unfortunately, in the case of binding Operational Directive 17-01, DHS did not provide Kaspersky Lab with a meaningful opportunity to be heard before the issuance of the Directive and, therefore, due process rights were violated. from Kaspersky Lab. "
DHS issued a binding directive in September banning federal agencies from using Kaspersky Lab products, citing the possible security threat that could arise from working with the Moscow-based company. The agency said the decision was based on "open source" data, information that was already visible to the public, such as newspaper accounts and congressional hearings.
Subsequent reports have been received from at least one Russian intelligence operation using Kaspersky antivirus software to identify and steal classified files. And subsequent hearings from the House Science Committee found that the Department of Defense first identified the company as a potential threat in 2004. However, DHS's explanation for the ban has not changed.
Kaspersky Lab said it plans to discuss two key points about the DHS directive. First, Kaspersky did not have enough time to challenge the allegations before a ban was issued. Second, the open source documents available at the time of the ban were based more on insinuating than on a technical threat that Kaspersky could analyze and respond to.
According to the letter from Eugene Kaspersky, the company contacted DHS in July, two months before the board, with an offer to help mitigate any concerns.
"The integrity and security of our products and technologies remain our top priority, and we hold that a more in-depth and collaborative review of our company and its products will mitigate any concerns," he wrote.
According to Kaspersky, the assistant secretary of DHS's Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, Jeanette Manfra, replied in August to confirm receipt of the letter.
"We look forward to communicating with you later on this matter and receiving that information from you, and we appreciate your patience as we work through time and logistical problems," he added, Kaspersky wrote.
The following communication that Kaspersky claims to have received was the federal directive prohibiting its software.
The DHS directive is not the only obstacle the firm faces when conducting business with federal agencies. President Trump recently signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which contained a provision that prohibited agencies from using Kaspersky products. Even without the DHS directive, the Kaspersky ban would still be codified by law.
But the company believes that presenting the case to the courts will offer the possibility of repairing part of the reputational damage caused by the accusations against them.
"By filing this appeal, Kaspersky Lab hopes to protect its due process rights under the US Constitution and federal law and to repair the damage caused to its business operations, its employees based in the United States. And its business partners based in the US " Kaspersky Lab wrote in a press release announcing the civil action.
DHS did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.