On March 21, the Maine State Legislature will hold a hearing on a bill to ban the purchase of risky Chinese technology from manufacturers in the Pine Tree state. Introduced by Senator Lisa Keim, An Act to Prohibit State Contracts with Companies Owned or Operated by the Government of the People’s Republic of China (LD877) comes as new research reveals that Maine has spent more than $5 million on risky Chinese technology from Lenovo, which has already been restricted by the federal government.
These $5 million in Lenovo purchases were made by the Bureau of Information Services, but the technology has likely been distributed throughout state agencies (unlike other states, Maine does not disclose where purchased technology is being used). While it is unclear what specific agencies are using this Lenovo technology, what is clear is that sensitive and confidential information held by certain government offices and agencies has been made vulnerable to Chinese intrusion through this dangerous technology already restricted by U.S. military and intelligence agencies due to its connection to the Chinese government and military.
Earlier this year, a MaineIT directive banned the social networking service TikTok from all state-issued or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) mobile devices connected to state equipment and systems. It states that Maine must keep pace with rapidly evolving national security risks to infrastructure “including the sensitive and confidential information that we are entrusted to protect for our citizens.” Maine’s LD877 is a critical action to help the state “keep pace” with evolving national security risks, and join the nearly dozen states taking action to ban the purchase and deployment of Chinese technology by state agencies and to prevent the exposure of government and citizens’ sensitive information to the Chinese government.
Other states that have yet to act should take note of Sen. Keim’s leadership and the efforts of other state lawmakers across the country working to bolster their state’s defenses against threats posed by dangerous Chinese technology.