In January 2023, Delegate Emily Brewer sponsored House Bill 2385, which would prohibit state agencies from entering into contracts for goods or services with scrutinized companies. Unfortunately, the bill was weakened by a carve out for companies approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, and ultimately failed. Given the more than $5 million the state spent on restricted Chinese technology from Lexmark and Lenovo in recent years, Delegate Brewer’s leadership should be commended, and we urge Virginia lawmakers to take up this issue again to protect Virginia residents’ sensitive data.
China Tech Threat’s (CTT) research reveals Virginia spent $5,786,482 on this risky Chinese technology by manufacturers already restricted by U.S. military and intelligence agencies due to their connection to the Chinese government and military. The purchasing entities include the State Police, Fort Monroe Authority, Department of Social Services and multiple state colleges and universities. The presence of this dangerous technology puts sensitive state data and academic and proprietary research at risk of theft by the government of China.(Read more about Lexmark, Lenovo and three other dangerous Chinese government-owned tech manufacturers in our May briefing paper.)
The prohibition of future purchases of this technology is imperative to protect Virginia’s confidential and proprietary information and research from Chinese surveillance. A growing number of states have enacted legislation to ban state agencies from purchasing and deploying Chinese technology.
Specifically, Virginia’s legislators can mirror the efforts of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem who signed SB 189 into law in March, Idaho’s Governor Brad Little who signed HB 294 and Arkansas’ Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders who signed HB 1789 in April, and, most recently, on May 1 Indiana’s Governor Eric Holcomb who signed SB 477. Enacting similar legislation will help Virginia safeguard its data. CTT will continue to monitor the state’s efforts toward this goal.
Be sure to check out our Substack!