Just as AOL finally rids itself of Bebo, news is coming in that objections are coming in about a previous deal, the sale of instant messaging company ICQ to Russian firm, Digital Spy.
According to the FT, the US security authorities are getting antsy about a deal that sees ICQ going to a Russian company. The FT reports said that unnamed "security officials" had raised concerns about the deal which would see a messaging system used by cyber criminals being transferred out of the reach of US security authorities ie we won't be able eavesdrop on their conversations.
The unnamed officials are threatening to derail the deal by going to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, a secretive US Treasury panel known as CFIUS, a body that has the capability to block deals if deemed to be inimical to the US's security. Now - and here's the strange thing - according to the FT, appeals have to be mounted within 30 days of the deal being completed, but as the Digital Spy transaction was on 28 April, we're already well over the 30-day limit, so there's little legally that can be done.
There are several questions about this.Why did it take so long before these mysterious consultants reacted? If there are concerns, why aren't they public ones - this after all concerns a public business transaction? And since when has been being Russian served as a reason to be block a company? Of course, there are some dodgy companies and some slippery customers in Moscow but the same could be said about the US, of course.
If there genuinely is a threat about ICQ going to Digital Spy, it doesn't say much about the security authorities that it took them about 42 days to notice something was up, but the huffing and puffing will all be in vain. Still, if you get an ICQ message from a Dmitri or Ivan, it might be an idea to be on your guard for a while.
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