10:45 AM

US Tech Companies Argued to Maintain Russia Spy Agency Ties

US technology companies lobbied the US government to create exceptions for a ban on business relationships with Russia's Federal Security Service.

US tech firms quietly campaigned the US government to create exceptions for a sanction prohibiting business relationships with Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), Reuters reports. The ban, a response to Russia's alleged intrusion in the 2016 presidential election, began last December.

The new rules would threaten Russian sales operations of Western tech firms because the FSB serves as a regulator to approve Russian imports of most technologies, including encryption. Several business industry groups were worried about the sales implications of the sanction and began to quietly push back in a campaign that hasn't been reported until now.

In January 2017, industry organizations began reaching out to the Treasury, State and Commerce departments, as well as the American embassy in Moscow. Representatives from the tech, automotive, and manufacturing sectors gathered to make their case.

They didn't fight the focus of the sanction, the report states, but instead asked for an exception so they could still obtain regulatory approval while maintaining the ban on doing business with the FSB. Lobbyists argued the sanction would affect not only sales of tech products, but of cars, medical devices, and heavy equipment with encrypted software.

While some officials pushed back against these arguments, their lobbying efforts proved successful. The Treasury Department made an exception to allow approvals on Feb. 2.

Read more details here.

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