In February, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced a statewide model security plan which includes a prohibited technologies list for state agencies. The list was created to address vulnerabilities presented by TikTok and other technology as the threat of Chinese access to critical U.S. information and infrastructure grows. If Texans knew their state spent $12,282,750 on dangerous Chinese technology from Lexmark and Lenovo between 2016 and 2023, we expect they would want these China-owned manufacturers added to Abbott’s prohibited list.
China Tech Threat’s (CTT) research that uncovered this significant spending also revealed this risky technology is being used by the Attorney General’s Office, the Texas Legislative Council, and State Auditor, among others.
The spending is concerning not only because of the high volume – $5,418,440 by the Attorney General’s office alone – but because this troubling technology makes key judicial, legislative, and sensitive personal information vulnerable to Chinese espionage. Yet, CTT’s February briefing paper reveals states continue to use this technology already restricted by U.S. military and intelligence agencies due to its connection to the Chinese government and military.
Thankfully, Texas is acting on several fronts. In 2021, the Lonestar Infrastructure Protection Act was signed into law. Sponsored by Rep. Tan Parker, the Act prohibits contracts or other agreements with certain foreign-owned companies in connection with critical infrastructure. Additionally, State Sen. Donna Campbell introduced SB 552 in February to prohibit contracts relating to critical infrastructure or agricultural land with Chinese citizens or companies.
Texas is one of the states leading efforts to prevent the exposure of sensitive information and infrastructure to the Chinese government, with South Dakota Governor Noem signing SB 189 into law in March and Idaho Governor Brad Little signed HB 294 at the beginning of April. With SB 552 currently in committee, Texas has yet another opportunity to act.