US sanctions against Russian security software company Kaspersky Lab, being pushed by the White House, are being resisted by officials who fear that it could set a dangerous precedent for global behaviour online.
The government is pushing for firmer action against Kaspersky - after already barring the company from US government agencies - in response to claims that it has allowed its anti-virus software to be used by the Russian state to snoop on users.
According to a CyberScoop report citing "two officials familiar with the matter" claimed that Treasury Department head Steve Mnuchin had "okayed" sanctions against the Moscow-based company, despite the opposition of several of his advisers.
Nevertheless, the final decision, which was lead by the National Security Council (NSC), rests with the executive branch; which is home to the NSC.
The Treasury Department said that the agency "does not telegraph sanctions or comment on prospective actions" when asked for comment on the matter.
The main worry from the government officials against it is likely to do with what impacts such sanctions would have on the development of global cyber norms.
Those against it are concerned that other countries may one day use the same line of reasoning against US companies, justifiably or otherwise.
"After all, what's stopping China from punishing Apple if they found out they were conforming to a National Security Letter or something," one of CyberScoop's sources said, referring to the use of secret administrative subpoenas to compel evidence from private companies.
"You know, that's the sort of question that needs to be asked. How would this affect that calculus for others in the future, right? I don't know."
Kaspersky Lab faces accusations of assisting the Russian government with spying on its customers.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Kaspersky will relocate its core infrastructure to Switzerland as part of its transparency initiative. This means that, by 2020, customers based in Europe will have data stored and processed in Zurich, rather than Kaspersky's data centres in Moscow.
Activities moving west include core processes such as software assembly, threat detection updates and customer data storage, Kaspersky announced this week.
To improve transparency and integrity, the company said it is also looking for an independent third-party based in Switzerland to supervise its operations in order to assure customers that their data cannot be compromised by the Russian state.
The move comes despite vehement protestations from Kaspersky Lab co-founder Eugene Kaspersky that the company has not allowed its technology to be exploited by the Russian state for the purpose of espionage.
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