(Adds comments from analyst, Symantec)
By Jim Finkle
BOSTON, July 10 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 use of one of its products.
The China Daily reported last week that the ministry had
issued an order to its branches across the nation telling them
to uninstall Symantec's data loss prevention, or DLP, products
from their systems and banning their future purchase, saying the
software "could pose information risks." (bit.ly/1okVF3v)
The vaguely worded report did not explain why the ministry
believed Symantec's software presented a security threat.
Symantec is the latest large U.S. technology company to
encounter challenges in China since last year when former
National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden began leaking
details about U.S. surveillance programs. Other firms include
Cisco Systems Inc, International Business Machines Corp
and Microsoft Corp.
"This highlights the lingering issue many tech companies are
facing in China," said FBR Capital Markets analyst Dan Ives.
He said that other U.S. providers of security software might
find themselves in the same position as Symantec, though he
declined to identify any specific companies.
Symantec spokeswoman Colleen Lacter said 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
"The discussions are ongoing and it's premature to go into
detail at this time," Lacter said via email.
She added that her company's software did not present any
risks to the Chinese government. "Symantec takes the privacy and
security of our customers' information very seriously and our
products do not have so-called 'Data Theft Backdoors,'" she
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 antivirus
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
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, Richard Valdmanis and