Kentucky Must Halt Purchases Of Dangerous Tech Due To Improper Ties To China

In June, Kentucky officials halted the payment of incentives to an electric vehicle battery facility after the U.S. Department of Energy rejected a $200 million loan for the project due to questions about improper ties to China. Kentucky should also halt purchases of restricted Chinese technology manufactured by Lexmark and Lenovo, which the state spent more than $5 million on between 2016 and 2022.

As China Tech Threat’s (CTT) research shows, Kentucky spent $5,762,445 on restricted Chinese technology from Lexmark and Lenovo, manufacturers already restricted by U.S. military and intelligence agencies due to their connection to the Chinese government and military. Yet, the state of Kentucky has purchased this technology for its Judicial Branch, Department of Revenue, and State Police, exposing its sensitive government and citizens’ data to the threat of surveillance by the People’s Republic of China. (Read more about Lexmark, Lenovo and three other dangerous Chinese government-owned tech manufacturers in our May briefing paper.)

The prohibition of future purchases of this technology is imperative to protect Kentucky’s confidential information from Chinese infiltration. Legislators in the state can look to a growing number of states that have enacted legislation to ban state agencies from purchasing and deploying Chinese technology to secure Kentucky’s cyber infrastructure and the data the state is entrusted to protect.

Examples of actions taken by state leaders that Kentucky’s legislators can model include South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem who signed SB 189 into law in March, Idaho’s Governor Brad Little who signed HB 294 and Arkansas’ Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders who signed HB 1789 in April, and, most recently, on May 1 Indiana’s Governor Eric Holcomb who signed SB 477. Enacting similar legislation will help Kentucky safeguard its data. CTT will continue to monitor the state’s efforts toward this goal.