Cybersecurity

House committee threatens subpoena in Kaspersky doc request

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The chairman of the House science committee told the Homeland Security Department secretary he would subpoena documents related to the government's purge of Kaspersky Lab software if they weren't shared voluntarily.

In a Feb. 1 letter, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) demanded that DHS turn over all materials requested in previous correspondence and provide a briefing to members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology so that they can identify any shortcomings or areas for improvement in agency plans to execute a binding operational directive ordering the removal of all traces of the antivirus company's products from federal networks.

If not, Smith threatened to use the committee's subpoena powers to compel the department to turn over the documents.

"Given the serious nature of these concerns related to the Committee's broader goal of uncovering all risks associated with Kaspersky, the Committee expects a full and complete response from the Department ... so that the Committee can fulfill its oversight responsibilities," Smith wrote.

According to Smith's letter, DHS officials told committee staff that they were unable to produce additional documentation because of pending litigation.

In December 2017, Kaspersky Lab sued the federal government over the ban, alleging that DHS failed to provide it with adequate due process and relied on "subjective, non-technical public sources" like anonymously sourced media reports to justify the ban.

Smith dismissed that argument, citing precedent set by a pair of court cases that upheld congressional authority to review relevant executive branch documents, even those subject to third-party lawsuits.

It is not immediately clear what laws or policies DHS may be citing in refusing the committee's request. A committee staffer told FCW that DHS officials have not provided the committee with any additional information about why they believe the lawsuit by Kaspersky Lab precludes them from fully responding to the document request.

In response to questions, a DHS spokesperson declined to comment or elaborate on the department's position.

The committee has set a Feb. 8, 2018, deadline for DHS to produce the requested documents.

About the Author

Derek B. Johnson is a former senior staff writer at FCW.

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