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US cybersecurity, data analytics firm pulls out of Russia

IT-SA 2017 tradefair, Splunk booth. (Ordercrazy/Wikimedia Commons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. cybersecurity and data analytics company Splunk has announced its decision to pull out of Russia.

In its statement on February 18, the San Francisco-based company said it would stop selling its software products to Russian entities, but will honor ongoing contracts until their expiration.

The statement did not give reasons for the decision, which comes a week after Russia’s lower parliament house gave preliminary approval to a bill that backers say is designed to ensure the operation of the Russian segment of the Internet if access to servers abroad is cut off.

The draft law has been under criticism in Russia and abroad as being part of an effort by President Vladimir Putin’s government to increase state control over the Internet and facilitate censorship.

Splunk is “continually evaluating where we are investing and focusing our company resources,” the company said.

“As part of this ongoing evaluation, we have decided Splunk will no longer be selling software and services to organizations in Russia — either directly or through partners,” the statement added.

The company’s move also applies to “business with subsidiaries based in countries outside of Russia whose parent company is in Russia, or who would use the software or services within the territory.”

Splunk’s main product is the Splunk Enterprise Security platform, a security information and event management (SIEM) solution that gathers and analyzes large quantities of machine-generated information points and is capable of providing insights into potential security incidents.

On February 12, the State Duma held its first hearing on a draft law calling for Russian web traffic and data to be rerouted through points controlled by the state and for the creation of a domestic Domain Name System to allow the Internet to continue functioning in Russia even if it is cut off from foreign infrastructure.

The bill came amid persistent tension between Russia and the West, where governments have accused Moscow of using cyberattacks and social-media activity to sow discord abroad and increase its global clout.

“This proposal naturally raises censorship and surveillance concerns, although the draft is so vague that even its authors were unable to explain how it would work in practice,” Human Rights Watch researcher Yulia Gorbunova said on February 18.

The Russian government “effectively controls most of traditional media in Russia and has been taking steps to bring the Internet under greater state control, while prosecuting social media users and adopting highly regressive legislation on data storage localization, encryption, and cybersecurity,” Gorbunova also said.