This spring, Georgia enacted a law that prohibits companies owned or operated by China to bid on or submit a proposal for a state contract. Governor Brian Kemp signed the bill into law in May 2022, calling it “proactive step to enhance our technological and economic security.”
The necessary and timely legislation is critical to helping Georgia close the state-federal tech threat disconnect. While the level of risk the use of China-owned technology presents to our national and economic security is so high that it is restricted by the U.S Military, the State Department, our intelligence agencies and elsewhere, these restrictions don’t transcend to the state level.
With a March AP report revealing that the Chinese government broke into the computer networks of at least six state governments in the United States in the last year alone, the risk continues to attract new attention. In July, Michael Cunningham of the Heritage Foundation released a report: “Why State Legislatures Must Confront Chinese Infiltration,” which covers myriad Chinese influence and intrusion activities taking place inside the U.S. One of the reports key imperatives is, “Preventing companies linked to the Chinese government from obtaining contracts to build critical infrastructure or supply technology to state government organizations.
The author of the Georgia legislation, Representative Martin Momtahan, has been building on the momentum of his legislation by working with lawmakers to pass similar laws in their own states. Part of this effort included introducing his bill as model legislation at the 49th Annual Meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meeting in July. It received unanimous support in two separate committee and has since been approved by the ALEC Board of Directors.
China Tech Threat Co-Founder Dr. Roslyn Layton, who served as an subject matter expert at the ALEC conference, warned in an interview with ALEC TV, “What we’re talking about at the state level is even more pernicious because these are the computers and servers where the information is stored . . . That information is being collected on a Chinese device. It is able to be accessed by the Chinese government.”
Rep. Momtahan detailed for ALEC TV how the Chinese government is seeking personal information and data for economic and military gain, to embarrass politicians, and why American companies need these types of policies to protect their IP and other valuable company information when looking to open operations in new states.
China Tech Threat expects more to come as states try to catch up and bridge the tech threat disconnect by passing laws to combat the use of risky Chinese technology that has already been banned at the federal level.