Air Force’s GPS Do-Over Serves as Reminder of the Cost of Insecure Technology

In August 2019, a Pentagon report fretted over $30+ million spent by military personnel on Lexmark printers and Lenovo computers that had been banned from US military and intelligence networks. Since that time, China Tech Threat has explored how both companies have continued to sell $50 million worth of equipment to nearly forty states. We continue to ask questions to state leaders, including those from Maine, New Jersey and Tennessee that have ignored our Freedom of Information Act requests asking them to tell us how much they spent and where this equipment is used. Learn more about our efforts here.

What we do know is that the US military continues to reject suspect Chinese technology.

One prominent recent example comes from SpaceNews, which explains how the “US Military Doubles Down on GPS Despite Vulnerabilities.” In Sandra Erwin’s thoughtful story she writes the “Next Generation GPS Operational Control System is considered one of DoD’s most troubled programs, hampered by delays and more than $2 billion in cost growth since the program started in 2012.“ Complicating matters and despite the enormous cost increase, the Air Force requires Raytheon to rip-and-replace IBM hardware by next April because of “security reasons following the sale of IBM’s computer server product line to Chinese-owned Lenovo.” As China Tech Threat founder Roslyn Layton has previously noted, the need to protect GPS is real and thoughtful steps are critical to protect U.S national security.

The Pentagon’s actions speak very loudly: The DoD will spend billions to ensure that our critical defense infrastructure is not reliant on technology owned by companies affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, like Lenovo.

And if military and intelligence leaders feel so strongly about excluding these companies, shouldn’t they also be rejected by state and local governments that hold tax data, universities conducing sensitive research, businesses that hoard terabytes about costumer behavior, hospital medical records, and even individuals own personal records?