Vermont Bans Chinese Tech From Government Info, Telecom Systems

The State of Vermont is banning Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese telecom equipment from all of its information and telecommunications systems, as well as Kaspersky-branded security products, like Anti-Virus or products from Kaspersky Government Security Solutions.

That is according to a directive from John Quinn, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Digital Services, as reported by the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press.

"The agency has determined that the risks presented by Kaspersky-branded products or services, and covered telecommunications equipment or services including those provided by Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hangzou Hikvision Technology, or Dahua Technology" were sufficient to justify the ban.

Related: Huawei Says FCC Trying Blacklist Handful of Companies

Quinn pointed to ties between Kaspersky and Russian government agencies and the potential for Chinese intelligence agencies to use Chinese info tech as espionage platforms to use against the U.S. and its allies.

The heads of U.S. intelligence agencies are in agreement that Chinese telecoms pose a security risk. In fact, in the most recent Defense Authorization Bill, federal government contractors are already prevented from buying equipment from Huawei and ZTE, and must submit a plan for phasing out the equipment already in use.

Requests for exceptions to the Vermont tech ban will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require a "compelling justification."

Huawei president Ren Zhengfei told CBS this week his company hasn't been used as a platform for spying, and would not do so even if asked by the Chinese government.

China passed a law in 2017 requiring companies to assist national intelligence gathering, CBS pointed out.

"[W]e never participate in espionage and we do not allow any of our employees to do any act like that," Ren told CBS Morning News co-host Bianna Golodryga this week. "And we absolutely never install backdoors. Even if we were required by Chinese law, we would firmly reject that."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.