South Dakota Republican Govt. Kristi Noem on Friday signed an executive order that bars the state from doing business with particular telecommunications companies owned or operated by “evil foreign governments.”
The order, according to Noem’s office, blocks business with companies associated with the governments of China, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Cuba and Venezuela.
Additionally, Noem’s office said the order, known as Executive Order 2023-02requires that “every government contract include a clause certifying that the contractor is not owned, influenced or affiliated with these countries”.
“It is essential that we protect the people of South Dakota from evil foreign governments,” Noem said after signing the order, which goes into effect next week. “This order ensures that these countries cannot leverage telecommunications or government procurement to access critical state infrastructure and data.”
“Maintenance of South Dakota State Government cybersecurity is necessary to continue serving the citizens of South Dakota,” the order reads. “The Chinese Communist Party has increasingly purchased vital agricultural land needed for the nation’s food independence and real estate near critical infrastructure, such as real estate near a military base in Grand Folks, in North Dakota.”
In addition, the order stipulated that South Dakota is home to “critical infrastructure vital to national security” and that “cybersecurity vulnerabilities can have real consequences for residents of South Dakota.”
“Countries including RussiaChina, Iran, and North Korea have engaged in increasingly aggressive cyberattacks against US assets, including financially motivated Iranian ransomware operations, Russian phishing attempts, targeted mining Chinese corporate data, cyberattacks on crucial ports since 2013, and the cyber and physical targeting of power grid stations in Washington, North Carolina and other states in late 2022,” the order reads.
Last November, Noem made headlines when she signed a decree barring state agencies – or those who contract with them – from accessing the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok and warned that the Chinese Communist Party was ripping information from users.
“It’s off our networks. It’s blocked on our servers. Any state employee, anyone who contracts with the State of South Dakota, anyone who uses one of our systems does not will no longer be able to download or use this app because of the national security threat that it is,” Noem told Fox News at the time.
Accessing the app will be a criminal offence, she said, adding ICT Tac poses a threat to the state of Mount Rushmore and the personal data of all South Dakotans and, by extension, Americans.
Fox News’ Charles Creitz contributed to this article.