FOIA Request Reveals New Mexicans’ Sensitive and Personal Information at Risk

As we have reported on in the past, Chinese government-owned technology manufacturers, including Lexmark and Lenovo, have been banned by U.S. military and intelligence agencies because of security vulnerabilities related to their connections to the Chinese Communist Party and the data theft risks that they pose. Despite these bans, and the clear risk that comes with doing business with these companies, the New Mexico State Government has spent $2.2 million on Lenovo equipment and $1.3 million on Lexmark products in recent years. China Tech Threat has procured this information through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests sent to New Mexico and several other states.

Link to our New Mexico FOIA report:

The use of banned Chinese government-owned technology vendors by state agencies endangers New Mexico’s personal and financial information. The Office of the District Attorneys, responsible for prosecuting crimes in New Mexico, has spent $905,275.37 on Lenovo equipment. The State Auditor, responsible for holding state government and elected officials accountable in the use of public funds, has spent $149,064.26 on Lenovo products. The State Ethics Commission, despite their mission to promote the integrity of state government, has spent $6,364.06 on Lenovo products.

See here for the full summary of purchases made by New Mexico.

Who can take action to prevent the use of these dangerous products? State purchasing agent Mark Hayden, whose mission is to “obtain ‘best value’ in acquisitions through compliance with the New Mexico procurement code,” and Department of Information Technology Secretary John Salazar, whose job description is “creating more accountability and efficiency in the information technology arena,” are directly responsible for which companies the state procurement process engages with.

Additionally, New Mexico’s congressional leaders can pressure their state officials to take action. Senator Martin Heinrich, Senator Tom Udall, and Representative Xochitl Torres-Small have all drawn attention to technology threats by the Chinese government, and should ensure that these suspect products are no longer being used by any government entity.