Twitter has banned Kaspersky Lab from advertising on its platform citing the company’s alleged ties with Russian intelligence agencies.
The ban was enforced in January, this year, according to an open letter published by Kaspersky today. Twitter has confirmed the ban in a statement to Bleeping Computer earlier today.
Twitter cites DHS directive for Kasperksy advertising ban
“Twitter made the policy decision to off-board advertising from all accounts owned by Kaspersky Lab,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement identical to the one received by Kaspersky Lab in January.
“This decision is based on our determination that Kaspersky Lab operates using a business model that inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices. Kaspersky Lab may remain an organic user on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules,” the spokesperson said.
When asked what this actually meant, the spokesperson directed this reporter to a Department of Homeland Security directive published last year, which the DHS issued to ban the use of any Kaspersky products on the Department of Defense computers.
Twitter pointed us to a particular paragraph that lays out allegations of secret ties between the Russian antivirus vendor and Russian intelligence agencies.
The Department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks. The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security.
Fallout from DHS ban continues for Kaspersky
Kaspersky Lab and its CEO have vehemently denied the accusations, and have filed a lawsuit in December 2017 to dismiss the DHS ban.
But the lawsuit, even if successful, may be just too late. The accusations of working with Russian intelligence have done a lot of harm to the company’s reputation, in the US and abroad.
Best Buy and Office Depot have announced last fall decisions to pull Kaspersky products off their stores’ shelves, and the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has sent out an alert, advising against using Russian-made antivirus products on critical systems.
The FBI has also lobbied the US private sector to ditch Kaspersky products, citing the same ties with Russian intelligence.
For its part, Kaspersky launched a Global Transparency Initiative, a program that lets governments and companies audit its apps’ source code, infrastructure, and product development cycle.
But despite its best efforts, the company’s business has slowed down in North America, and the company has closed down its DC office last December.
The antivirus vendor appears to have been caught in the middle of heightening tensions between Russia and the US and is most likely being unfairly punished for today’s rising political tensions.
Kaspersky to donate Twitter advertising budget
As for its Twitter ban, Kaspersky has taken it in stride, promising to donate this year’s Twitter advertising budget to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“They do a lot to fight censorship online,” Eugene Kaspersky said.