TECH INSIGHT: Prohibited Technology Executive Order Drives Urgency to Replace Technology

Amy Shambo, Red River Account Executive

Government used to be hesitant to step into policing cyberspace at its inception, but those days are long over, largely because the risk is far too great. Executive Order 2022-09 from the New Hampshire Office of the Governor has made it clear that specific technologies are prohibited from being “used in or connected to any State Network or installed on any state issued device including but not limited to desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones, across the Executive Branch of the State Government of New Hampshire.” This mandate doesn’t stem from an abundance of caution as much as it is an abundance of wisdom.

The Evolution of Cyber Regulation in Government

The first most well-known regulation targeting foreign ICTS on the grounds of national security came at the Federal level in 2019.  Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act prohibited federal agencies from using technologies or services provided by five Chinese companies—Huawei, ZTE, Hikvision, Dahua and Hytera—as well as from working with any contractors that use equipment from those firms. That was a pivot point which raised the concern that if untrustworthy foreign technology was a national security issue, then it also merited being managed at every level of government.

States Step Up to Protect Intellectual Property

New Hampshire is one of dozens of states who have followed this line of thinking prohibiting the use of technologies from foreign entities. The reason for the strong response is based in protecting intellectual property in a world of information sharing.

For example, because China is an autocracy with absolute power and its laws provide that information from any Chinese company can be accessed by the government, which means no privacy for those companies and for the organizations that use their technology.

ChatGPT and the race to AI has faced similar concerns. As organizations experiment with the promises of AI and speed of content generation with ChatGPT, risks to data privacy emerge quickly. When intellectual property, data or otherwise private information gets put into this tool, it then belongs to the large language model and is no longer within the framework of a given entity but available to any ChatGPT user.

What Local Government Can Do to Stay Compliant

Army National Guard Colonel Barry W. Groton Jr. (Woody) and current Cyberspace Officer for the New Hampshire National Guard commented, “Price is typically a motivating factor for choosing these banned technologies. And although some of the price points on foreign technology might be appealing, ultimately you don’t want your data on their networks, because it almost guarantees that your data will be compromised. The cost savings are not worth the far-reaching security risk.”

As of March 1, 2024, 16 states have introduced action to restrict Chinese technology in contracts, whereas five years ago only one state had these kinds of restrictions in place.

State and local entities using foreign-made technologies and equipment have been increasingly deemed a national security risk, which has prompted the increase in federal programs to support the replacement of these technologies with more trustworthy options. The FCC’s Secure and Trusted Networks Reimbursement Program has been in place to support these rip and replace requests. First round applications for this program were so great that extensions and additional support is being considered.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s wise to begin thinking about how future growth into AI will also be compliant for long-term use with security in mind. The White House issued a briefing relative to the safe, secure and trustworthy use of AI technology which emphasizes “…that the companies and technologies of the future are made in America.”  

The Path Forward: Help New Hampshire Contribute to Local & National Security

To start on the road to identifying and replacing these banned technologies, take the three-minute anonymous online survey to help the state of New Hampshire understand how great the need is for replacing these technologies by heading to the following link