The Russian anti-virus company wants to complete the appeal process before a broad government ban takes formal effect in October.
The embattled Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab is asking an appeals court to overturn a governmentwide ban on its software products before the prohibition takes formal effect Oct. 1.
Kaspersky lost its case before a U.S. district court late last month when the judge granted the U.S. government’s motion to dismiss.
The appellate court must act quickly to reverse that decision because the ban is having a profound effect on Kaspersky’s reputation and bottom line, the Moscow-based company argued in an emergency motion for expedited consideration filed late Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Kaspersky’s U.S. government business accounted for a very small portion of its multinational operations, the company acknowledged. About one-fourth of Kaspersky sales, however, go to U.S. companies and households that might be scared off by the government’s contention that Kaspersky software could be used as a Russian government spying tool, the company said.
Kaspersky has also invested more than $500 million in its U.S. operations over the past 12 years, the company said.
“Kaspersky Lab’s position as a trusted software vendor has been compromised in all areas,” the motion states. “It is difficult to envision a more irreparable harm to a company’s reputation than the United States government declaring the company a threat to national security and refusing to do business with it.”
Congress banned Kaspersky from government and contractor networks in the 2018 version of the National Defense Authorization Act, an annual must-pass defense policy bill, that became law in December.
Kaspersky argued at the district court level that Congress had unfairly singled the company out for punishment without giving it a chance to defend itself—an action known as a “bill of attainder.”
U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly didn’t buy that argument, saying Congress’s intention in passing the provision was to protect national security, not to punish Kaspersky.
The Homeland Security Department had already directed civilian agencies to remove Kaspersky when Congress voted to impose the governmentwide ban in December.
Kaspersky also challenged the Homeland Security ban, but Judge Kollar-Kotelly declined to rule on those arguments. Kaspersky didn’t have legal standing to challenge the Homeland Security ban, the judge said, because any harm it would cause was already being caused by the congressional ban.
Kaspersky is now off all government networks but remains on some contractor networks, Homeland Security officials have said. Kaspersky has always denied cooperating with the Russian government.
Kaspersky suggested an expedited briefing schedule before the appellate court.
According to the proposed schedule, Kaspersky will present its arguments July 11, the government will respond Aug. 13 and Kaspersky will reply to that response Aug. 27.
That will give the appeals court time to hand down a decision by Oct. 1, Kaspersky said.