Between 2015 and 2023, the state of Arkansas spent $7,090,199 on restricted Chinese technology from Lenovo, Inc. and Lexmark, Inc.
On April 19, Governor Sarah Huckabee signed into law HB1798 which prohibits contracts with companies owned or operated by the Government of China. The bill was introduced in January 2023 by Rep. Mindy McAlindon. However, a loophole renders the new law powerless and must be corrected when the legislature reconvenes.
Technology products by Chinese government-owned technology manufacturers Lenovo and Lexmark have been banned by U.S. military and intelligence agencies due to their connection to the Chinese government and military, but are still being purchased by state government bodies. While federal policy directs information security at the federal level, states must determine their own security standards making states vulnerable to intrusion through the purchase of these risky Chinese technology products and services.
State lawmakers can enact laws and regulations to restrict contracts with Chinese-owned or operated tech manufactures.
As awareness grows among state lawmakers, there is a shift at the state level to take these threats more seriously. Some states, such as Georgia and Florida, already have laws or regulations to restrict contracts with Chinese-owned or operated tech manufactures that can serve as model policies, and nearly a dozen more states currently considering legislation.