Kaspersky challenges Twitter's decision banning company's ads

News by Teri Robinson

Twitter Friday banned Kaspersky Lab ads, pointing to misaligned business practices and what the US government has said is Kaspersky's relationship to Russian intelligence, claims that repeatedly have been denied by the firm.

Twitter Friday banned Kaspersky Lab ads, pointing to misaligned business practices and what the US government has said is Kaspersky's relationship to Russian intelligence, claims that repeatedly have been denied by the firm. 

“In a short letter from an unnamed Twitter employee, we were told that our company “operates using a business model that inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices,” company founder Eugene Kaspersky wrote in an open letter to Twitter founder and president Jack Dorsey. “Huh? I read this formulation again and again but still couldn't for the life of me understand how it might relate to us.”

Kaspersky said his company hasn't “violated any written – or unwritten – rules, and our business model is quite simply the same template business model that's used throughout the whole cyber-security industry: We provide users with products and services, and they pay us for them.” 

Kaspersky questioned the Twitter notice's assertion that it wanted its users to feel safe, noting the Russian cyber-security company shared that goal. 

In December President Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 2018(H.R.2810), which contains a section prohibiting federal use of products and services from Kaspersky Lab.  

The ban is to take effect on 1 October, 2018, and gave the Secretary of Defense 180 days to present a report to relevant Congressional committees detailing the findings from a review of procedures for removing Kaspersky products from federal government networks.

Last September, the Department of Homeland Security also issued a binding order forbidding the use of Kaspersky Lab security software. The order gave federal agencies three months to inventory and remove the software.

“Considering the grave risk that Kaspersky Lab poses to our national security, it's necessary that the current directive to remove Kaspersky Lab software from government computers be broadened and reinforced by statute,”  US Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said at the time.  

Shaheen earlier in 2017 introduced the amendment that bans Kaspersky into H.R.2810. “The case against Kaspersky is well-documented and deeply concerning. This law is long overdue, and I appreciate the urgency of my bipartisan colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee to remove this threat from government systems. Going forward, I will continue to push for additional measures that strengthen our nation's cyber-security and protect our democracy from harmful foreign interference,” Shaheen said in a press release.

In the letter to Dorsey, Kaspersky also pinned Twitter's action on the ongoing imbroglio in which social media companies have been embroiled after revelations that Russian operatives manipulated their platforms and pushed propaganda in an influence campaign meant to disrupt democratic processes and sway the presidential election. “Understandably, you've been busy dealing with public and political pressure. As a response to all this pressure, social media platforms – Twitter in particular – need to somehow adapt their rules and policies,” Kaspersky wrote. “But please, dear Twitter managers, I think it's of the utmost importance that any and all changes you do introduce in response to existing challenges are divulged in full and applied in a transparent manner.”

Kaspersky gave the nod to Twitter's Advertising Transparency Centre, saying that “staying transparent is, I believe, both necessary and to be encouraged in these turbulent times” and pouring to Kaspersky's own efforts at transparency urged Twitter to reconsider its decision to ban the company's ads - though he did say no matter the outcome Kaspersky wouldn't be advertising on the social media platform for the remainder of the year.

“The whole of the planned Twitter advertising budget for 2018 will instead be donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF),” Kaspersky wrote. “They do a lot to fight censorship online.”

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