As conversations around the way the new administration will tackle cybersecurity threats from China continue to evolve, two things are clear: concrete action is necessary, and it must be taken sooner rather than later. As China Tech Threat works to report on the danger of Chinese cyber threats to the US, we are once again finding that many state governments continue to put themselves in harm’s way.
One of the largest threats comes from state governments continuing to purchase U.S. military-restricted equipment. This includes buying products from Lenovo, a Chinese-owned company that has been banned by multiple military and intelligence agencies in the U.S. and around the globe because of security deficiencies.
Through a FOIA request, we found that Nebraska has spent almost $94,000 on Lenovo products in recent years, giving the Chinese government access and control over all data on their products.
Read our full Nebraska FOIA report here:
Most concerning is the wide range of data accessible by Nebraska government agencies that have purchased Lenovo’s restricted equipment. The Nebraska Department of Administrative Services’ mission is “to grow opportunity through more effective, more efficient, and customer-focused state government.” Its core values include being transparent and acting ethically. It has spent more than $66,000 on Lenovo equipment used in its work to maintain data about Nebraskan’s financial records, addresses, insurance and pensions, is all work that involves sensitive personal information.
Other state agencies like the Department of Education, which holds private student and teacher data related to test scores, free meals and certifications, and the Game & Parks Commission all maintain extensive databases of all types of citizens throughout the state that are now at risk.
State and federal officials representing Nebraska should work together to take action against these risky purchases. Both Doug Carlson, Chief Procurement Officer, and Ed Toner, Chief Information Officer, can work within the state government to prevent Lenovo products from being used or purchased.
Further, members representing Nebraskans in both the U.S.Senate and the House of Representatives have been leaders in the fight against Chinese aggression in the technological sphere. A member of the Senate intelligence committee, Senator Sasse, in a response to recent news of the NYSE delisting certain Chinese companies, said, “Chinese firms that reject fundamental transparency requirements and have ties to the Chinese military shouldn’t benefit from American investment.” Moreover, Rep. Smith has been outspoken about holding China accountable for its malign actions. He recently said, “China’s unfair technology transfer practices are a threat to American innovation.”
This bipartisan issue affects all Americans. We urge those who can act to do so and we hope that our elected officials who work to protect user privacy will resolve this increasingly concerning threat.