Maine Debates Bill To Stop Hemorrhaging Sensitive Info To CCP

The more than $5 million the State of Maine has already spent on dangerous Chinese technology from Lenovo was a concern raised throughout a Maine committee hearing on legislation to prohibit state contracts with companies owned or operated by the Chinese government. Maine leaders should move the bill quickly through the work session that will be held in the next few weeks and pass the bill. In doing so, it will join Vermont, which was the first state to take action to prohibit restricted equipment back in 2019, and the nearly dozen other states considering bills.

Underscoring her point that the Lenovo technology is likely being used throughout state, the sponsor of LD877, An Act to Prohibit State Contracts with Companies Owned or Operated by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, Sen. Lisa Keim pointed out to a committee staff analyst at the dais that was using a Lenovo computer during the March 21 hearing.

“The number one enemy of America is Communist China. Making headlines through Huawei, ZTE in 5G networks, and TikTok, China is well known for collecting massive amount of information on US Citizens, but they are also targeting our government at every level. Chinese companies have no choice- they must provide an information pipeline for the Chinese Communist Party,” Sen Keim said. “If Chinese technology is being used anywhere in our state, the Chinese government has access to our private information. Maine is vulnerable in at least in one known way: Lenovo laptops, which are used throughout state government.”

Georgia State Senator Martin Momtahan, who successfully passed a similar bill in his state with bipartisan support, urged the committee members to support LD877. He cited the 2022 Mandiant report on six state governments that were hacked by the Chinese government in one year alone. He also made the important clarification that the legislation applies to companies that are wholly or partially owned by the Chinese government because China’s 2017 Internet Security Law gives the government access to information collected by equipment provided by Chinese-owned companies and the disclosure of that data to the Chinese Communist Party upon request.

Sen Keim emphasized several times that this bill does not address removing Lenovo technology already purchased, which is a considerable threat, but it is about making different choices with who Maine contracts with moving forward. “We need to recognize from this point forward that this is a real threat. It is in black and white in their law,” she said of China’s 2017 law. “They are not trying to hide it from us so why wouldn’t we react appropriately? That is why we are so late in coming to do this type of thing.”

Also demonstrating support for the bill, the Manufacturers Association of Maine wrote in testimony, “We believe this bill addresses a concerning issue and it’s important that the state and state funded entities are not inadvertently procuring goods or services that could unknowingly put them at risk.” China Tech Threat Principal U.S. Army General (Retired) James Marks’ testimony in support of the bill concluded with the warning, “Over the course of my career in the U.S. military, I watched U.S. military planners go from regarding China a second-tier challenge to treating it as our pacing threat. The Chinese Communist Party is using all elements of national power – diplomacy, economics, military development, information flows, and technology – to undermine American security, prosperity, and freedoms.”