West Virginia Must Protect State Data In Addition To Land When It Comes To PRC Threats

West Virginia State Auditor JB McCuskey recently introduced legislation to protect West Virginians and their property from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). As reported by the WTRF, this legislation proposes adding the PRC to a growing list of countries banned from buying natural resources, farmland, and property from the state of West Virginia. While this bill serves as a productive start to limiting threats from the PRC, the state of West Virginia’s data remains at risk. 

China Tech Threat revealed the state of West Virginia spent $482,606 on restricted Chinese technology from Lexmark, Inc and Lenovo, Inc between 2016 and 2023. Technology products by these two Chinese government-owned technology manufacturers have been banned by U.S. military and intelligence agencies due to their connection with the PRC government and military. (Read more about Lexmark, Lenovo and two other dangerous Chinese government-owned tech manufacturers in our February briefing paper.)

This means that any department with sensitive information is at risk of data being handed over to the Chinese government. As listed in our West Virginia fact sheet, the Department of Juvenile Services, the Division of Financial Institutions, and the Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority are all high risk departments that are currently using Lexmark or Lenovo products. 

Each department listed obtains vulnerable information that could serve as value to the PRC. Federal Correction departments such as the Juvenile Services or the Jail and Correctional Facility Authority holds valuable information about the inmates and prison systems, such as expenses, and budgeting, as well as their personal information and their health records. The Division of Financial Institutions serves as the oversight to the state’s financial services industry, providing the potential leak of sensitive information about the finances of the state of West Virginia. 

It is important for the safety and security of West Virginia’s data that the state stop these risky contracts with Chinese technology. State lawmakers of West Virginia can enact laws to restrict these contracts, ending the opportunity of leaks from Chinese-owned or operated tech manufacturers.