Security

Chinese government forbids officals' use of U.S. anti-virus software

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Image Credit: Symantec

China’s latest move to curb government use of anti-virus software from U.S.-based Symantec may be its latest move to edge out foreign companies in its marketplace.

Late last night, China’s state-run newspaper People’s Daily tweeted that China’s government procurement agency had released a list of approved security and anti-virus software vendors, all five of which were Chinese companies. Symantec and Russia’s Kaspersky Lab were excluded from the list.

China will allow Qihoo 360, Venustech, CAJinchen, Beijing Jiangmin, and Rising to sell security software to government agencies.

The exclusion of Kaspersky Labs and Symantec means that some government officials will not be allowed to buy security software from either company. “It is important to note that this list is only for certain types of procurement, and Symantec products are not banned by the Chinese government,” Symantec said in a statement.

This is not Symantec’s first tangle with the Chinese government. Last month, the company was reportedly in talks with the Chinese government over a ban it issued against the company’s data loss prevention software, according to Reuters. The Ministry of Public Security released a statement asking all employees to uninstall the software and forbiding future purchases.

China is making it increasingly difficult for foreign companies to operate inside its borders. In May, the country also banned use of Microsoft’s Windows 8 OS. And just last week, the country’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) launched a probe into possible antitrust practices at Microsoft.

The government’s increased endorsement of native companies is at least partially informed by Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. national security agency data collection practices. Since then the Chinese government has been concerned with the level of security American software companies are providing against NSA spying.

Symantec’s full statement:

“Symantec is aware of media reports about the company not being on a China government procurement agency list of anti-virus suppliers. It is important to note that this list is only for certain types of procurement and Symantec products are not banned by the Chinese government. We are investigating this report and will continue to bid for and win government projects in China.

 At Symantec, our first priority is the privacy and security of our customers’ information. Every Symantec product and service globally undergoes an extensive testing procedure and security audit. Symantec has been active in China for more than 15 years, with nine different offices across the country. We are committed to the local government and Chinese customers, and have invested significantly in the country by expanding our product development and offering.”