Marco Rubio wants answers from GSA after feds buy blacklisted Chinese tech

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Last week, the United States Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent a letter to Robin Carnahan, the administrator of the United States General Services Administration (GSA), after reporting that the Drug Enforcement Agency, United States Ministry of Defense Defense Finance and accounting department, and the Department of the Army products purchased by Lorex, a subsidiary of the Chinese company Dahua Technology, via a GSA portal.

As Rubio pointed out, U.S. law prohibits federal agencies from purchasing Dahua technology because of its links to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ongoing human rights abuses, including genocide and labor. strength.

Given this, Rubio urged the GSA to “take immediate action to ensure that COTS products sold by blacklisted Chinese companies are blocked from the GSA Advantage portal.”

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Carnahan Administrator:

I write about recent reports that, as recently as May and July 2021, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), and the Department of The military purchased hard drives and video surveillance equipment made by Lorex, a wholly owned subsidiary of China-based Dahua Technology. Pursuant to Section 889 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, executive agencies are prohibited from purchasing or obtaining equipment, systems, or services provided by Dahua and its subsidiaries, as they could help the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to continue its activities. espionage efforts. Additionally, as you may be aware, the U.S. Department of Commerce has added Dahua to its Entity List due to its ties to the CCP’s ongoing human rights abuses, including genocide and labor forced, against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

According to December 2021 reports, the DEA purchased nine Lorex hard drives for surveillance systems in May 2021 through a General Services Administration (GSA) portal called GSA Advantage, while DFAS purchased Lorex CCTV cameras through Focus Camera, a supplier also listed in the GSA Advantage catalog. The military purchased Lorex cameras through Focus Camera, as well as through vendors IS companies and JLogistics. I am aware that the GSA is planning a new Verified Products Portal to ensure compliance of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products listed on GSA Advantage with applicable laws and regulations, however it is nonetheless unacceptable that Dahua/ Lorex were not banned from the site until August 13, 2019, when the ban deadline was widely known. There is no excuse for a nearly two-year gap in which contractors could have purchased dangerous Chinese goods and equipment.

The CCP holds tight the reins on Chinese technology companies and demands the involvement of these companies in state-sponsored espionage activities. According to article 7 of the PRC National Intelligence Act 2017 and the Counterintelligence Act 2014, Chinese tech companies are not allowed to refuse CCP requests to hand over data to which they have access. Fears about the susceptibility of Dahua users to wiretapping have been repeatedly raised, with senior US Department of Defense officials expressing in 2019 that they were “concerned” about huge cybersecurity vulnerabilities. a critical gap in US national security, providing the CCP with a potential avenue into the day-to-day activities of US federal agencies that use this technology, including sensitive military information.

I urge you to take immediate action to ensure that COTS products sold by blacklisted Chinese companies are blocked from the GSA Advantage portal. Given the obvious national security concerns, I also seek answers to the following questions:

Have all products covered by Section 889, including Lorex and Dahua hard drives and surveillance technology, been removed from GSA Advantage, including direct listings or those listed through vendor partners?

What criteria does the GSA use to vet connected vendors and products listed on GSA Advantage?

If the technology in question has been banned for a year after the passage of FY19 NDAA – over two years ago from today – why was it still available for purchase on GSA Advantage until summer 2021?

What steps will the GSA take to track banned products sold since they were blacklisted by the NDAA or entity lists, so that these types of cases can be uncovered?

If a GSA supplier claims not to be supplying or using covered products, current GSA rules appear to direct GSA procurement officers to take the offeror or contractor at their word, except for any “independent reason” to question it. Will the next verified products portal work differently and apply a higher level of control?

I appreciate your attention to this important matter.

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