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May 8, 2019

The negative campaign against Kaspersky

By David Corne

The US is pressuring foreign cybertech companies to double down on privacy measures with little accountability of its own. Kaspersky has been at the center of a cyber cold war and the victim of a global defamation campaign after its software was deemed malicious based on no concrete evidence. One year later, the European Commission admits it is not in possession of any evidence related to the use of Kaspersky products.

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The US is pressuring foreign cybertech companies to double down on privacy measures with little accountability of its own. Kaspersky has been at the center of a cyber cold war and the victim of a global defamation campaign after its software was deemed malicious based on no concrete evidence. One year later, the European Commission admits it is not in possession of any evidence related to the use of Kaspersky products.

The global conversation on privacy has been hijacked by a geopolitical battle between the US and foreign cybertech firms such as Russia's Kaspersky and China's Huawei. What may appear to be a demand for accountability has transformed into a modern cold war, ravaging the reputation and revenues of America's top cyber competitors.

An international smear campaign escalates into a cyber cold war

Over the last two years, a mounting negative campaign has been orchestrated in a cleverly packaged anti-Kaspersky narrative, accusing the company of spying for the Russian government and deeming their anti-virus software as "malicious" in June 2018.

These buzzwords were circulated by countries across the EU including France, UK, Denmark and Germany. The damaging declaration however appears to be baseless.

In November 2018, the German Bundestag has reported that, "there is no evidence that demonstrates any manipulation of Kaspersky software".

It has been estimated that the accusations against Kaspersky are lacking evidence and illegitimate political motivations are fueling the campaign against the company.

On the 12th of April in their response to a question submitted by Annemans, a Belgium MP, regarding the reason behind the EU's resolution to label Kaspersky as 'dangerous' and 'malicious', the European Commission revealed that there is in fact no intelligence nor any evidence behind the EU Parliament's vote back in June 2018 that recommends banning the usage of Kaspersky's products.

The US was also unable to provide enough proof to insert Kaspersky into the Commerce Department's "Entity List" of risky products which would ban the use of Kaspersky in the private sector.

The political stigmatization and scapegoating of foreign tech companies

Stigmatization of Kaspersky products still runs rampant as a cold war-esque alliance re-emerges, calling for the ban of Kaspersky and its removal from private usage.

The evil spy for Russia trope is simply being over-used in what seems to be a recycled script from a Soviet vs. America movie. Kaspersky is simply being scapegoated in a political battle meant to quash America's top competitor in an unfair advantage.

The US is excelling at leveraging its international prowess like a high school clique spreading an ugly rumor against a threat that may prevent its rise to international dominance.

Democrats are also active participants in the anti-Russia narrative. Washington eagerly re-tweets #collusion accusations as a retaliatory measure against the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

An international sanctioning campaign arrives in Germany

The controversial arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhour in Canada has set the tone for foreign tech companies looking to do business in the US-play by the rules or suffer the consequences. However, the evidence against Huawei remains frivolous at best.

Similarly to the Kaspersky case, countries such as Britain mention that security risks with the Chinese tech company are manageable and have found no concrete evidence of any malicious activity.

The US is also going after German businesses. The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has peaked American animosity as the project involves close cooperation with Russian gas companies. German companies involved in the construction of the pipeline are being threatened including Uniper, Wintershall, Dutch Shell and many more.

Business however will go on as usual, as German companies remain undeterred by US sanctions. "Uniper will remain one of the financing partners of this project and we are - as before - fully committed to the project," said Uniper's chief financial officer Christopher Delbrueck.

Germany has also been warned against working with Huawei. The U.S. has been pressuring many European allies to ban Huawei from their 5G network or risk losing access to intelligence-sharing. Despite U.S. Pressure, Germany has refused to exclude Huawei's 5G Technology.

Donald Trump's cybersecurity adviser traveled to Germany to press the case for ostracizing Huawei according to reports, in yet another arm-twisting attempt by Washington to keep the Chinese tech firm out of Europe.

American firms run free of accountability and into double standards.

On US soil, there is absolutely no pressure on American technological companies like Cisco, Symantec or McAfee to enhance their level of transparency. It seems they have been granted total immunity with no demands of accountability or enforcing policies for harvesting user data responsibly.

Kaspersky and Huawei have had to invest millions in building elaborate transparency centers as an act of total compliance with US transparency policies. The Russian cybertech firm has two centers in Zurich and Madrid, while Huawei has opened a new center in Germany.

Despite their cooperation, foreign cyber companies are still held on a tight leash while the smoke screen on the privacy debate is steadily growing.

This double standard is preventing a real conversation from taking place as world powers are once again trying to convince public of who is the more data responsible champion.

All global cybertech firms should be held equally accountable with only the public to answer to, and not unnecessary cyberwar sanctions.



Submitters Bio:
David is an experienced news and financial affairs writer with an extensive background in business, policy and tech.

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