Prohibition Of Agricultural Purchases A Good First Step, But Montana Shouldn’t Let Up

The Daily Montanan reported that a Chinese surveillance balloon was seen flying above the state within days of a hearing on a bill to prevent foreign adversaries, including China, from buying up agricultural land in Montana. While prohibiting the PRC from land purchases in Montana is a good start, the state is still at high risk of data leaks through their purchase of more than one million in Lexmark and Lenovo technology between 2017 and 2022, a recent China Tech Threat (CTT) report reveals.

CTT’s research shows these risky technologies are used by the Department of Revenue, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the State Auditor. All of these departments hold valuable information that needs to be protected from foreign adversaries, like tax records, information held by the justice system. It is essential for the state of Montana to stop the purchase of these untrustworthy products to protect their data. 

Technology products by these two Chinese government-owned manufacturers have been banned by U.S. military and intelligence agencies due to their connection with the PRC government. Any department with sensitive information is at risk of data being handed over to the Chinese government, leaking sensitive citizen information and data. 

Fortunately for Montana, Rep. Steven Galloway introduced legislation in February, House Bill 602, that prohibits state contracts with Chinese government-owned or affiliated technology manufacturers. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed a similar bill into law in March and legislators in more than a dozen other states are taking similar action to ban the purchase and deployment of Chinese technology by state agencies and to prevent the exposure of government data and residents’ information to the Chinese government. While this bill missed the deadline for consideration, we laud Rep. Galloway’s leadership on this issue and urge the state’s lawmakers to make it a priority as soon as they can act.