That the National Weather Service (NWS) is now alerting Oklahoma residents to the differences between weather balloons and spy balloons shows how concerned Oklahomans are about national security threats posed by China. While they may not be aware, they should also be concerned about the more than $587,000 in dangerous technology used in state networks. Thankfully, State Senator Micheal Bergstrom is taking action to address this threat.
China Tech Threat’s (CTT) research shows Oklahoma spent $587,883 on risky Chinese technology from Lexmark and Lenovo between 2018 and 2021. As detailed in the newly released fact sheet, our research reveals this dangerous technology is currently used by the Secretary of State, the University of Oklahoma, and the Departments of Commerce, Correction and Public Safety, all holding sensitive information and research, intellectual property, and private data entrusted to the state by Oklahomans.
To help protect this information from theft by China, in January Sen. Bergstrom sponsored Senate Bills 43 and 107 (reported “Do Pass” as of 3/2) prohibiting state agencies from purchasing any goods or services from or entering into contracts with any company owned or operated by the Government of China. These are timely bills as CTT’s recent analysis shows states continue to purchase dangerous technology already restricted by US military and intelligence agencies due to its connection to the Chinese government and military.
With these bills, Oklahoma joins nearly a dozen states – including South Dakota whose Governor Kristi Noem signed into law SB 189 just last week – taking action to ban the purchase and deployment of Chinese technology by state agencies and to prevent the exposure of states’ and citizens’ sensitive information to the Chinese government. Last year, Governor J. Kevin Stitt banned TikTok for state government agencies, employees and contractors on government networks or government-issued devices but Oklahoma needs more protection from China’s technology aggression. Oklahoma’s legislators should ensure that Sen. Bergstrom’s proposed bills make it to Gov. Stitt’s desk.