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Eugene Kaspersky at the Security Analyst Summit. Photo: Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

A Washington D.C. court has dismissed Kaspersky Lab's lawsuits against the U.S. government over two different rules banning Kaspersky products from federal systems.

The background: Both a federal law passed as part of last years National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA,) and a binding operational directive (BOD) issued by the Department of Homeland Security, prohibit federal agencies from using Kaspersky products. Both portrayed Kaspersky, a Moscow based company, as a national security risk.

The details:

  • Kaspersky sued to prevent the two rules from coming into place, claiming the NDAA was a form of unlawful punishment against a specific company known as a bill of attainder. The judge reasoned that "The NDAA does not inflict 'punishment' on Kaspersky Lab. It eliminates a perceived risk to the Nation’s cybersecurity and, in so doing, has the secondary effect of foreclosing one small source of revenue for a large multinational corporation."
  • Because the NDAA ruling remains in effect, the judge ruled the BOD case was more or less a moot point. No matter what the ruling in that case, the NDAA would continue to block federal agencies from using Kaspersky products.

The perceived threat: Lawmakers and DHS have publicly said the national security threat from Kaspersky products stems from Russian law. Antivirus programs and other security programs often upload files to a security firm's server in the course of analyzing them for threats. By law, Kaspersky would have to honor Russian official requests for the data.

  • Media reports suggest there may be a more specific espionage threat. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported Russian spies used Kaspersky Lab products to search for classified files on U.S. systems that had Kaspersky installed.
  • Kaspersky has denied any fealty to the Russian government or willing involvement in an espionage scheme and moved its data centers to Switzerland in order to boost public trust.

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Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.

Schumer rattles reconciliation saber

More than an aisle separates Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, seen in the Senate Chamber after the Capitol siege. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Chuck Schumer is expected to telegraph, as soon as tonight, that he will use his political muscle to pass some of his party’s priorities — like President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

Why it matters: While the Senate majority leader wants to work with Republicans on key legislation, advisers say, he will make clear that using the simple majority vote inherent in the budget reconciliation process is one of the big sticks at his disposal.