The U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission (USCC) has requested an official probe of Lenovo’s recent contract to provide the U.S. Department of State with 15,000 computers, BBC News reports.
The group requested the review because it said the PCs could potentially be turned into bugging devices used for spying on the U.S. government, BBC News reports.
Lenovo officials said they would openly submit to the investigation, but warned that the review could negatively affect the way the company handles future government contracts, according to BBC News.
Jeff Carlisle, Lenovo’s vice president of government relations, told BBC News his company had “nothing to hide.”
The State Department plans to spend roughly $13 million on the Lenovo PCs, and those machines are to be assembled at facilities in Mexico and North Carolina, according to BBC News.
The USCC’s requested review comes just weeks after security concerns regarding the purchase of U.K.-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam and Navigation Co. (P&O) by United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Dubai Ports World led the company to announce it would shift control of the U.S. port it acquired as part of the deal to a U.S. entity.
Michael Wessel, a member of the USCC, said the Lenovo computers provided an “enormous” potential for intelligence collection, BBC News reports.
Head of the USCC, Larry Wortzel, said it was likely U.S. lawmakers would launch an investigation, according to BBC News.
“If you’re a foreign intelligence service and you know that a [U.S.] federal agency is buying 15,000 computers from [a Chinese] company, wouldn’t you look into the possibility that you could do something about that?” Wortzel asked BBC News.
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