Pentagon has been working on a new "do not buy" software list targeting technologies from China and Russia for the last half a year, Reuters reports, citing Ellen Lord, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. While speaking to reports on Friday, Ms. Lord said avoiding software that may raise national security concerns due to its origins isn't a straightforward task as the holding company structure is often used to mask the provenance of such technologies, which is a large part of the reason why the list in question has been in the making for months now.
The initiative is primarily meant to assist the Department of Defense's acquisition officials, though the official didn't rule out the possibility of sharing it with other branches of the government in the future. A number of companies that previously haven't been blacklisted by Washington in any shape or form have been identified as potential security risks by the team in charge of the new "do not buy" list, Ms. Lord revealed, without elaborating on the matter. The development comes shortly after Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed for another wave of indictments over certain Russian agents' efforts to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. To date, Mr. Mueller's investigation led to the indictments of 25 individuals and three companies from the transcontinental country.
The latest iteration of the annual defense bill that's expected to be passed in the coming weeks also contains new safeguards against software that could pose a national security risk to the country. While its more aggressive provisions such as the one seeking to put ZTE out of business have been removed earlier this month, the final draft of the bill still contains clauses that require government contractors to disclose whether Russia and China were ever allowed to inspect the source code of their technologies or are otherwise familiar with the manner in which they function.