Burner phone use by athletes at the Beijing Olympics is the order of the day. Numerous nations are warning athletes to leave their laptops and cell phones at home for fear of Chinese cyber mischief at the Beijing Winter Olympics beginning Feb. 4.
Among those nations on high alert are the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. They're all warning athletes not to allow their communication devices to be used by the Chinese communists’ efforts at espionage.
U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee spokesman Jon Mason stated that Team USA is among other national governing bodies warning athletes “to determine the best course of action.” Team USA disseminated an advisory encouraging the use of rental/disposable computers and “burner phones” for members of its delegation. The advisory also said:
“Like computers, the data and applications on cell phones are subject to malicious intrusion, infection and data compromise.”
The Wall Street Journal reported American athletes were warned that “every device, communication, transaction and online activity may be monitored. Your device(s) may also be compromised with malicious software, which could negatively impact future use.”
The Dutch Olympic Committee also warned its delegation, saying it is “anticipating Chinese surveillance during the games.” Canada, Australia and the British delivered similar advisories to their teams.
In typical communist propaganda fashion, the Chinese are asking what all the fuss about. The Beijing 2022 organizing committee released a statement acknowledging the collection of personal information, but claimed it will protect that information.:
“The Chinese government attaches great importance to the protection of personal information.
“Personal information collected by Beijing 2022 will not be disclosed unless the disclosure is necessary. Information of accredited media representatives will only be used for purposes related to the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”
Relations between western nations and China have already been strained to new lows, reports Gino Spocchia, of The Independent. American and British authorities are blaming Beijing for human rights abuses in in Hong Kong and the country’s Xinjiang province. Several nations are declining to send diplomatic delegations to China.
China accused the U.S., U.K. and other nations “political posturing and manipulation”.
And then there is the threat of athletes popping off about China via social media. Think of how fearless American athletes are of criticizing their own country.
The international community has been on heightened alert since early November when Chinese women’s tennis star Peng Shuai disappeared for several days after accusing a former government official of raping her. Her social media accusation was quickly removed by the government. When she resurfaced in public, she recanted her earlier accusation, prompting suspicion that she may have been detained and disciplined by the government.
Athletes from other nations could potentially face disciplinary action by the Chinese government for criticism of its human rights abuses. It will be wise for all to be very cautious in social media remarks about China on Chinese soil.