Kaspersky Ban Draws Few Public Comments

Eugene Kaspersky, Russian antivirus programs developer and chief executive of Russia's Kaspersky Lab.

Eugene Kaspersky, Russian antivirus programs developer and chief executive of Russia's Kaspersky Lab. Pavel Golovkin/AP

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Only three people commented on the rule implementing the Kaspersky ban.

How concerned are government and industry about a new law requiring federal agencies and contractors to rid themselves of any trace of Kaspersky anti-virus software?

Not very concerned, by the looks of two calls for public comments on implementing the law, which responds to intelligence community concerns that the Russian company’s software could be used as a Kremlin spying tool.

The main call for comments on a joint rule implementing the law by the General Services Administration, Defense Department and NASA closed Aug. 14 with only three comments.

The three comments were: a complaint from an alleged Pentagon employee that there was no government point of contact to help implement the rule; a request, seemingly from industry, for more specificity about how broadly the ban will be interpreted; and an expression of concern about a carveout for contract extensions of less than six months.

A separate call for comments, which focuses on reporting requirements for implementing the law, closes Tuesday. The agencies had received no public comments in response to that request as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

That call for comments focused on how much labor would be required by tech and cyber specialists, lawyers and others in industry to implement the ban and how many subcontracts would likely be affected for each contractor that implemented the ban.

The congressional Kaspersky ban became law in December and officially goes into effect Oct. 1. Federal agencies have already rid themselves of the Russian anti-virus in response to a separate Homeland Security directive, issued in October, but contractors have made less progress, according to Homeland Security officials.  

Kaspersky challenged both the Homeland Security and congressional bans in federal court. That case was dismissed at the U.S. district court level. Oral arguments in the appeals case are scheduled for Sept. 14.

Congress imposed similar governmentwide bans on the Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE in a major defense policy bill that became law last week.