Symantec, Kaspersky clarify China ban

Responding to reports that their products have been banned by the Chinese government, the security vendors say the restrictions do not apply to local governments and large enterprises in the country.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Symantec and Kaspersky have refuted reports their products have been completely banned by the Chinese government, saying the restrictions apply only to agencies funded by the central government and do not include local governments and large enterprises.

The U.S. and Russian IT security vendors were responding to reports their products had been removed from a list of antivirus software suppliers approved to sell to government agencies. 

Kaspersky Lab, though, acknowledged China now restricts the procurement of software from foreign companies, according to a China Daily report. "The Chinese Central Government Procurement Center temporarily rescinded its endorsements of all foreign security software providers, leaving only Chinese vendors on the approved list," said the company in a statement. 

"However, this restriction only applies to national-level institutions which funding comes from the central government procurement budget and does not include local governments or large enterprises."

U.S.-based Symantec also said its products had not been banned by the Chinese government, noting that the restricted list only applied for "certain types of procurement". It added that it was "investigating" reports suggesting otherwise and would continue to bid for government projects in China.

Citing Matthew Cheung, Gartner's research director of the infrastructure software market, the report restrictions imposed by the Chinese government would not lead to significant financial losses for both security vendors in the short term. The analyst noted that the public sector accounted for a small portion of the companies' business in China.

Cheung said: "The majority of Kaspersky's business is contributed by consumers rather than enterprise users, and if you look at Symantec, only 20 percent of its revenue comes from the information security business."

The Chinese government earlier this week also removed 10 Apple products, including the iPad and MacBook, from its list of items approved for procurement. Initiated by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the ban was reportedly due to security concerns. 

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