“At this critical point, our nation must pursue a whole-of-government approach to dealing with the China threat, with urgent action at the local, state, and federal levels,” Florida State Representative David Borrero outlined in a Miami Herald op-ed. He correctly highlights Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order as the sort of bold action required to limit China’s technology aggression which is critical as a recent China Tech Threat analysis shows Florida spent over $29 Million on dangerous technology from Lexmark and Lenovo between 2015 and 2022.
Furthering the cause, Rep. Borrero’s bill, HB 1355, to prohibit government entities from entering into contracts that give China access to certain sensitive data is moving through the committee process and a similar bill, SB 264, was introduced by Rep. Jay Collins.
The spending uncovered by CTT is not just concerning because of the high volume of purchases, but also because untrustworthy technology was purchased by the State’s Attorney’s Office, the Board of Elections, the Department of Corrections and by public utilities, as detailed in the fact sheet here. Its use exposes state data including sensitive personal, judicial, and election data, as well as the power grid and other critical infrastructure, to theft, manipulation, or destruction by the Chinese government. This is precisely why technology manufactured by these state-controlled companies is already restricted by US military and intelligence agencies due to its connection to the Chinese government and military.
Florida’s lawmakers are at the forefront of efforts to protect their sensitive information from Chinese theft and know there is more work to be done. Florida Department of Management Services Secretary Pedro Allende, with whom CTT spoke in December, has worked aggressively to monitor state purchases and develop the enforcement capabilities to protect state systems from threats. Sec. Allende, along with Reps. Borrero and Collins, join legislators in over a dozen states sponsoring legislation to ban the purchase and deployment of Chinese technology by state agencies and to prevent the exposure of government and residents’ information to the Chinese government. CTT will continue to monitor Florida’s efforts toward this goal.
To learn more about Florida’s tech policies toward countering China, you can watch Sec. Allende’s interview here.