House panel delays Kaspersky testimony

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A House committee has delayed planned testimony from the CEO of Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab.

Eugene Kaspersky last week accepted an invitation from the House Science Committee to testify at a public hearing on Sept. 27.

The invite was extended one day after the Trump administration barred federal agencies from using Kaspersky products over security concerns. Kaspersky planned to address allegations about his company at the hearing. 

{mosads}However, a committee aide said Thursday that the hearing would be postponed to a later, undisclosed date, citing scheduling conflicts. 

When asked for more information, the aide said that a conference member event had been scheduled for the same morning.

Kaspersky said last week that he would need an expedited visa to attend the hearing. When contacted about the delay, Kaspersky told The Hill in a statement, “I look forward to participating in the hearing once it’s rescheduled and having the opportunity to address the committee’s concerns directly.” 

Kaspersky Lab, an anti-virus software company with headquarters in Russia but locations worldwide, has increasingly come under scrutiny over allegations of ties to Russian intelligence.

There is no public evidence linking the firm to the Kremlin. However, Kaspersky’s roots in Moscow have caught increased attention on Capitol Hill in the wake of Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. 

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security issued a public directive instructing federal agencies and departments to develop plans to remove Kaspersky software from their information systems in coming months, citing potential risks to U.S. national security.

“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 department said. 

“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,” it said. 

Homeland Security offered no evidence to bolster its concerns. 

Kaspersky has rejected the allegations as unfounded and plans to submit a written response addressing the concerns laid out by the U.S. government. 

Republicans on the House Science Committee wrote to Kaspersky asking him to testify before a subcommittee last Thursday. Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) had previously raised concerns that the company’s software could be used in “nefarious activities against the United States.” 

The hearing, once rescheduled, will also feature testimony from a top cybersecurity official at Homeland Security, as well as other current and former government officials.

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