In February, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, urged the Biden Administration to implement recently passed bipartisan legislation requiring the US to develop a comprehensive strategy addressing the China threat, stating, “it drives me nuts to watch us deal with China.” This is not just an issue to be dealt with in the halls of Congress. Between 2018 and 2021, Sen. Romney’s home state of Utah has spent more than $34 million on risky Chinese technology from Lenovo, including for the Attorney General’s Office. (Read the Fact Sheet on Utah’s spending here.)
Unfortunately, Utah’s $34 million expense triples the expense from just a few years ago, when our prior report indicated that the state spent $11 million between 2016-2020. (See our March 2020 Fact Sheet.)
These purchases should drive us all nuts and prompt swift action to stop it. In addition to the Attorney General’s Office, purchasing agencies include the Legislative Branch, and Utah’s higher education institutions, keepers of sensitive judicial and legislative data, research, and intellectual property. This information is made vulnerable to Chinese theft by this dangerous technology already restricted by US military and intelligence agencies due to its connection to the Chinese government and military. (Read more about Lenovo and three other dangerous Chinese government-owned tech manufacturers in our February briefing paper.) Last year, Governor Spencer Cox signed an executive order banning the use of TikTok by executive branch agencies on state owned devices, but more action is needed. Utah’s lawmakers should take a cue from their senator and follow the wave of 11 other states taking action to ban the purchase and deployment of Chinese technology by state agencies and to prevent the exposure of government and academic information to the Chinese government.