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Eugene Kaspersky slams Twitter for banning his firm from buying ads

Twitter has confirmed that it has banned Kaspersky Lab from advertising on its platform, claiming that the Russian cyber security firm’s business model “inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices”.

A spokesperson for the social network referenced a Department for Homeland Security notice published last September that raised concerns about alleged links between Kaspersky and the Russian government.

Kaspersky denies the allegation and is seeking to overturn a ban on the use of its products by the US government.

Twitter’s response came after Eugene Kaspersky, the eponymous CEO of the Moscow-based firm, published a blog disclosing the ban and calling on the social network to provide clarity on the motives behind it.

“What specific (or even non-specific) rules, standards and/or business practices we violated are not stated in the letter,” said Kaspersky, who noted Twitter informed the company of the ban in January. “In my view, the ban itself contradicts Twitter’s declared-as-adopted principle of freedom of expression.”

In light of the social network’s decision, Kaspersky has vowed to donate his company’s annual Twitter advertising budget to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, citing its work fighting online censorship.

Last October, Kaspersky launched a Global Transparency Initiative in a bid to restore trust in its business, after the US government alleged its software could be exploited by Russian spies. As a part of the programme, it is opening up its source code to independent experts. In March, the company also pledged to increase its bug bounty rewards to up to $100,000.

In a statement emailed to NS Tech on Monday, Kaspersky said: “Kaspersky Lab has always abided by Twitter’s standards, hasn’t violated any rules nor received any claims regarding the company’s advertisements on the platform. Kaspersky Lab used Twitter ads (77K euros spent in 2017) to promote its cybersecurity research, inform users about new cyberthreats and provide them with IT security advice.

“Kaspersky Lab considers this action – an advertising ban without any valid reasoning or evidence of misconduct – as being contradictory to Twitter’s principles for freedom of expression. Therefore, the company is calling on Twitter to provide a more specific and detailed explanation of its decision.”

Twitter has previously banned the Russian broadcaster Russia Today and news service Sputnik from advertising on its platform.

This story has been updated to include statements from Twitter and Kaspersky.