Florida Adopts Toughest Rules yet to Protect People and Organizations from Chinese Government Intrusion.

Yesterday Florida governor Ron DeSantis released Executive Order 22-216 to counter Chinese government intrusion in Florida’s computer networks. Noting the critical security threat detailed by national defense authorities and the actions taken to secure federal networks, Governor DeSantis took the step to secure Florida’s state and local government networks by preventing the exposure of government information and technology services and systems in Florida to the Chinese government.

China Tech Threat (CTT) has detailed the important efforts to protect people and enterprises whose data is held within state government. Just last week, CTT was in Florida at a James Madison Institute tech summit discussing threats to Florida and actions that leaders intend to take to secure Florida’s residents, businesses and infrastructure. Earlier this year, Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill prohibiting the purchase of information technology from Chinese government owned providers. The bill has become model legislation for US states.

The Florida Executive Order directs its procurement arm, the Department of Management Services (DMS), to create rules to implement the order; bolsters the legal authority of the order by reiterating the findings of US national security agencies; and covers the gamut of firms which may attempt to conceal their ties to the Chinese government.

Effective immediately, the Executive Order prohibits Florida state and local government entities from procuring technology products and services from companies owned by, controlled by, or domiciled in China. The executive order directs the Department of Management Services (DMS) to promulgate rules and take any additional action necessary to ensure commodities and services used by state and local governments are not susceptible to exploitation by foreign countries of concern. This prohibits government entities from procuring or utilizing technology services that:

  • Have been determined by DMS to pose a risk to the safety and security of Florida due to the company’s connections to or use by a foreign country of concern;
  • A federal agency has prohibited due to a national security concern; and 
  • Are designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by companies or affiliated companies determined by federal or state government agencies to be owned, controlled, or domiciled in a foreign country of concern.

DMS Secretary Pedro Allende, observed, “With today’s Executive Order, Governor DeSantis takes decisive action to defend the State of Florida and all Floridians from the cyber threats posed by foreign countries of concern and associated groups,” said “The Governor’s direction to develop cybersecurity and procurement rules and standards will make it harder for bad actors to gain a foothold on state infrastructure, will protect Floridians’ personal information and intellectual property, and will further secure key information systems and the critical infrastructure that our state and its citizens rely on each day.”

Governor DeSantis has called upon the state legislature to take further action to prohibit Florida government entities from contracting with companies owned by, controlled by, or domiciled in China if the contract would provide access to Floridians’ personal information. This prohibition would include the bidding, submitting a proposal for, or entering into or renewing a contract with a government entity if the contract would provide the company with access to an individual’s name in combination with a Social Security number, driver’s license, financial account numbers, medical history, insurance policy numbers, etc.

The governor further outlined legislative steps needed to prohibit the purchase of farmland and funding to Florida university funding by adversaries.

China Tech Threat applauds Florida’s efforts and hopes that other states will take similar action.