Anti Virus firms Symantec and Kaspersky have been removed from China’s official list of anti-virus vendors approved to sell to the government and state-owned corporations, continuing a trend of creating a hostile market for foreign technology companies.
The removal of these two companies from the list leaves only five, which, uncoincidentally, all all Chinese firms: Qihoo 360 Technology, Venustech, CAJinchen, Beijing Jiangmin, and Rising remain on the list. Last year, the list, which comes via a procurement bureau for government agencies had many recognizable foreign brands including ESET, Panda Security and Trend Micro.
But while Symantec and Kaspersky are no longer allowed to sell to China government agencies, products from the two companies are not directly banned in-country.
“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,” a Symantec spokesperson said in a release.
Privately, China’s Public Security Ministry has alleged that Symantec has placed backdoors in its software for electronic eavesdropping — a charge that Symantec has publicly outright denied.
“Symantec does not put hidden functionality or back doors into any of its technologies -– not for the NSA or any other government entities,” a Symantec spokesperson is quoted in a statement first published by Bloomberg.
It appears that regional level governments are still allowed to purchase software made by the two companies. It’s not clear if China’s many state-owned enterprises — which include every major telecom, bank, shipbuilding, mining and construction company — are banned from procuring the software.
The announcement first came from the Twitter feed of the People’s Daily, a newspaper which is largely seen as a mouthpiece for the Communist party.
Govt procurement agency has excluded Symantec & Kaspersky fm a security software supplier list, all 5 in are fm China pic.twitter.com/cSqCxVN0jI
— People’s Daily,China (@PDChina) August 3, 2014
Attacks against Western consumer product companies in China from state media began last year with Apple targeted for its warranty practices, but in a post-Edward Snowden world the tempo increased in 2014 and changed to specifically target technology companies.