- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The European Parliament approved a motion Wednesday targeting Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based antivirus vendor accused of enabling the Russian government’s international espionage operations, as member states move to adopt policies strengthening their cybersecurity defenses from foreign actors.

Passed during a plenary session held by parliament members in Strasbourg, France, the wide-ranging motion, A8-0189/2018, contains dozens of recommendations and suggestions for bolstering cybersecurity within the European Union, ranging from ramping-up artificial intelligence research and fostering cooperation between member states, to disavowing suspected state-sponsored hacking attacks and developing measures for protecting against emerging cybercrime schemes.

Among the items included in the motion passed Wednesday is a section urging E.U. members to cut ties with Kaspersky Lab, potentially jeopardizing the firm’s future in Europe less than a month after it announced plans to relocate a significant chunk of its infrastructure to Switzerland to distance itself from accusations involving its alleges ties to Russian military intelligence.

Approved by a vote of 476-141, with 36 members abstaining, the non-binding motion includes a provision that “Calls on the EU to perform a comprehensive review of software, IT and communications equipment and infrastructure used in the institutions in order to exclude potentially dangerous programmes and devices, and to ban the ones that have been confirmed as malicious, such as Kaspersky Lab.”

“Considering the overall situation of EU-Russia relations, and Russia’s aggressive behaviour, we should not be taking risks that could cause serious damage to the EU,” Urmas Paet, the Estonia representative who proposed the motion, said in a statement following Wednesday’s vote, Euractiv reported.

While the motion passed in Europe failed to explain how or why Kaspersky Lab products were deemed malicious, officials abroad warned in recent months that the Russian government could leverage the firm’s antivirus software to steal sensitive data from customers’ computers, prompting the U.S., British and Dutch governments to pass policies limiting or banning the use of Kaspersky Lab products by federal agencies.

Kaspersky Lab has repeatedly denied maintaining improper ties to Moscow, and last month the company said it would move operations to Switzerland to further distance itself from the Russian government.

“This decision from the European Parliament welcomes cybercrime in Europe,” Eugene Kaspersky, the company’s CEO and founder, said in a statement responding to Wednesday’s vote.

“We have showed time and again that we disclose cyberthreats regardless of origin and author, even to our own detriment,” Mr. Kaspersky said. “This is a setback for the fight against cyber threat, but we remain undeterred in our mission — to save the world from Cybercrime.”

Kaspersky Lab has suspended plans to collaborate on a European cybercrime-fighting initiative with Europol as a result of the vote, a company spokesperson added in a statement sent to The Register tech website.

Last month, meanwhile, a D.C. federal court judge dismissed two separate lawsuits brought by Kaspersky Lab against the U.S. government challenging Trump administration policies prohibiting its products.

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