Symantec in talks with Chinese government after software ban report

BOSTON, July 10 Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:32am EDT

BOSTON, July 10 (Reuters) - U.S. security software maker Symantec Corp said it is holding discussions with authorities in Beijing after a state-controlled Chinese newspaper reported that the Ministry of Public Security had banned the use of one of its products.

The China Daily reported on July 4 that the ministry had issued an order to branches across the nation telling them to uninstall Symantec's data loss prevention, or DLP, products from their systems, saying the software "could pose information risks."

The newspaper also said Chinese news site Sohu.com had reported that the public security bureau had banned Symantec's DLP products from future procurement projects. (bit.ly/1okVF3v)

Symantec spokeswoman Colleen Lacter told Reuters that her company was in discussions with the Chinese government about the matter, though she declined to confirm or deny the newspaper's account of what had happened.

"The discussions are ongoing and it's premature to go into detail at this time," Lacter said via email.

When asked if other Chinese government agencies were pulling out Symantec's software, Lacter said: "We believe (this) is an isolated incident to the Ministry of Public Security."

The ministry declined to provide immediate comment by phone and did not respond to faxed questions.

DLP software helps organizations prevent workers from intentionally or unintentionally removing sensitive data from computer networks. It is one of several categories of security software sold by Symantec, which is best known for anti-virus programs that detect malicious software on personal computers.

Talk of China's decision to target Symantec comes following reports in May that China banned government use of Windows 8, the current version of Microsoft Corp's operating system for personal computers.

The official Xinhua news agency said the ban was to ensure computer security after Microsoft ended support for its Windows XP operating system, which was widely used in China. (Reporting by Jim Finkle; Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Christopher Cushing)