China Bans Symantec and Kaspersky From Government-Approved Vendor List

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China excludes two big names in the anti-virus industry as distrust of outside technology continues to grow

China has reportedly excluded American anti-virus vendor Symantec and its Russian competitor Kaspersky from a government list of approved anti-virus vendors because of security concerns.

According to a number of reports in the Chinese media, including the state-controlled People’s Daily and the Beijing Youth Daily, Symantec and Kaspersky have been excluded by the government’s procurement agency in favour of Chinese alternatives.

The reports suggested that Symantec and Kaspersky had been excluded because China was wanting to limit the use of foreign technology. But Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that the two firms had been excluded over security concerns.

Chinese Exclusion

America US China - Shutterstock © Aquir“Symantec does not put hidden functionality or back doors into any of its technologies – not for the NSA or any other government entities,” Symantec told Bloomberg in an emailed statement.

“We are investigating and engaging in conversations with Chinese authorities about this matter,” Kaspersky spokesman Alejandro Arango was quoted as Reuters as saying. “It is too premature to go into any additional details at this time.”

The two firms are the latest foreign companies to face difficulties operating in mainland China amid increasing distrust of foreign, mostly Western, technology. Last month, a Chinese broadcaster warned that the iPhone was a national security risk; a claim Apple rigorously denied.

But Apple is not the only firm to face anti-western moves from Chinese authorities who have sought in recent months to make sales more difficult for companies such as IBM and Cisco, with Chinese businesses and banks replacing Western computers or software in favour of local offerings. Indeed, Cisco boss John Chambers wrote to President Obama in May, warning about the damaging business impact of the NSA spying allegations.

China said recently that it would vet Western technology companies operating in the country and the China Central Government Procurement Centre has already excluded Windows 8 from government purchases, in order to “ensure computer security”.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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