The Landlord Is Listening
When Uncle Sam is owned by others:
The foreign-owned buildings have national security and privacy implications, as they house agencies ranging from FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency field offices to a Social Security Administration office in Seattle, Wash. Even the U.S. Secret Service rents space from companies based in Germany and China, according to the Government Accountability Office, which is the research arm of Congress.What could go wrong?
The GAO warned that "foreign ownership of government-leased space can pose security risks particularly regarding cybersecurity," with particular reference to China. The report noted that "companies in China are likely to have ties to the Chinese government," as well as federal government warnings about Chinese government hackers targeting private and federal U.S. entities. "China is the leading suspect in the cyber intrusion into the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) systems affecting background investigation files for 21.5 million individuals which OPM reported in July 2015," the GAO added.
Although the buildings are leased formally from companies based in foreign countries, GSA can't be sure that those private companies are the true owners of the buildings. "GSA lacks complete information regarding foreign-owned leased space including beneficial owner information (which GAO defined as the person who ultimately owns and controls a company)," the senators noted.