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China bans Symantec and Kaspersky from providing software to government

In recent weeks, the Russian government has been taking steps to discourage the use of foreign software – including the likes of Microsoft’s Windows and Office – in favour of using home-grown software solutions. But Russia isn’t the only country that’s making moves to limit its use of international software.

China’s largest newspaper group, the state-controlled People’s Daily, reports that the agency responsible for government software procurement has barred two of the world’s leading antivirus developers – American firm Symantec, and Kaspersky Lab from Russia – from a list of approved software vendors.

The only five companies that made it onto the list are all Chinese: Qihoo 360 Technology Co, Venustech, CAJinchen, Beijing Jiangmin and Rising. As Reuters reports, this move is the latest indicator of China's focus upon restricting its use of foreign software. In May, China’s Central Government Procurement Center banned Windows 8 from its list of approved software.

Some interpreted this as a retaliation against the United States, after the US government brought criminal charges for economic and cyber espionage against five members of the Chinese military. However, the fact that Russia’s Kaspersky has now been excluded from this more recent list too suggests that China is intent on increasingly favouring its own software solutions over those provided by foreign companies.

A Kaspersky spokesperson told Reuters that the company is “investigating and engaging in conversations with Chinese authorities about this matter. It is too premature to go into any additional details at this time.”

Although Symantec has not commented on this latest turn of events, China’s government barred its data loss prevention software from official use last month. A Symantec spokesperson said at the time that the company did not anticipate a ban on its antivirus product there. 

Source: People's Daily / Reuters | Chinese flag button on keyboard image via Shutterstock

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