Kaspersky freezes partnership with Europol after EU calls for company ban

A photo of Kaspersky Lab's headquarters in Moscow. Kaspersky could be facing sanctions from the U.S. government at the conclusion of its lawsuits. (Getty)

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Kaspersky Lab pulled out of a partnership with Europol on Wednesday after the European Parliament passed a resolution characterizing Kaspersky “confirmed as malicious” and calling for a company ban.

The measure passed 476 to 151.

The “European Parliament decision welcomes cybercrime,” Kaspersky founder Eugene Kaspersky tweeted on Wednesday.

The company has worked with Europol for years on cybercrime investigations. Kaspersky also has a notable partnership with Interpol, where the company has supplied threat intelligence, hardware, software, digital forensics and other operations.

Kaspersky also pulled out of the No More Ransom project, a partnership between public and private organizations to detect and prevent the spread of ransomware.

“Today, the European Parliament voted on a report in which Polish representative, MEP Fotyga included an amendment referencing Kaspersky Lab which is based on untrue statements,” a Kaspersky Lab spokesperson told CyberScoop. “Although this report has no legislative power, it demonstrates a distinct lack of respect for the company which has been a firm friend of Europe in the fight against cybercrime. It is for that reason that Kaspersky Lab has taken the difficult decision to temporarily halt our numerous collaborative European cybercrime-fighting initiatives, including that with Europol, until we receive further official clarifications from the European Parliament.”

The company is open to meeting with European authorities on the issue.

The European Parliament resolution is not a ban or legally binding, but it does recommend banning the company as part of a wide review of information technology used throughout the European Union.

While specifying that no Kaspersky products are used in Europol systems, spokeswoman Tina Hollevoet said the organization “respects” Kaspersky’s decision and is “grateful for the support Kaspersky has provided over the years.”

Wednesday’s vote signals a new wave of challenges for the company. Kaspersky Lab is already banned from U.S. federal systems, banned from sensitive United Kingdom systems and it’s being phased out of Dutch systems.

U.S. officials accuse the company of being a national security threat complicit in Russian spying. The U.S. ban goes into full effect as of Oct. 1, 2018.

In response, Kaspersky has been waging several lawsuits against the U.S. government and even promised to move “a good part” of the company’s infrastructure to Switzerland in an effort toward transparency.

William Evanina, the Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, told CyberScoop that the Switzerland move doesn’t make a difference to him. The company remains, in his eyes, a national security threat.

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Eugene Kaspersky, European Union, Europol, Kaspersky Lab
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