FCC says Russia’s Kaspersky Lab is a national security threat

It's the first cybersecurity firm to end up on the commission's threat list.

Sergei Karpukhin / reuters

On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission added Russia’s Kaspersky Lab to its “Covered List,” labeling the cybersecurity firm an “unacceptable” national security risk to the US. The move marks the first time the agency has blacklisted a Russian company.

With the decision, US companies can’t use subsidies from the FCC’s $8 billion Universal Service Fund for supporting telecom deployments in rural and underserved communities to purchase products and services from Kaspersky. All seven other organizations on the list hail from China, with among the most notable being Huawei and ZTE.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Car said the designation would help the US secure its networks from “threats posed by Chinese and Russian state-backed entities seeking to engage in espionage and otherwise harm America’s interests." The two other companies the FCC added to the list on Friday were China Telecom and China Mobile, both of which were already subject to previous restrictions.

“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,” Kaspersky said following the announcement. The company noted it was ready to work with the FCC and other US government agencies to address any regulatory concerns.

The move is partly symbolic. Before Friday’s announcement, a 2017 order by former President Donald Trump had already banned the federal government from using Kaspersky software. The FCC did not cite Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine for this most recent move.

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