Ahead Of 2022 Winter Olympics, Team USA Instructed To Ditch Their Personal Phones For 'Burners' When In China
The Department of Homeland Security in the United States issued a similar warning for anybody travelling to China during the 2008 Summer Olympics, advising that bringing any gadgets could expose them to unauthorised access and theft of data by criminal or foreign government forces.
As Beijing is preparing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, which is about to begin on 4 February, the United States athletes were advised by the country’s Olympic and Paralympic Committee to use disposable or “burner” phones instead of their cellphones, while being in China.
Last year, the notice was apparently sent out twice to Team USA to warn them of the likelihood of being under digital surveillance while participating in the Winter Olympics.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the athletes received an advisory document in September, while in December, a bulletin was sent according to which “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.”
Additionally, as per the report, athletes from the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Netherlands have also been advised not to bring their personal electronics into the country.
The use of temporary phones is recommended. Using temporary phones could make it more difficult for athletes to communicate with family and friends who are unable to attend the Games with them owing to an international spectator ban.
It might also make it more difficult for athletes to use social media to advertise themselves and their accomplishments, which is one of their most essential tools for securing and keeping sponsorship deals.
However, such decisions or advice are not the results of overthinking and the concerns are not without merit. In 2019, China was found illegally planting spyware on the phones of tourists entering the Xinjiang province, which is a well known highly monitored neighbourhood for Uyghurs, a primarily Muslim ethnic group who have been imprisoned and tortured by Chinese authorities.
Furthermore, it was discovered that China's My2022 Olympic app, which all guests must install, is riddled with security flaws that might lead to data leaks, surveillance and hacking.
Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security in the United States issued a similar warning for anybody travelling to China during the 2008 Summer Olympics, advising that bringing any gadgets could expose them to unauthorised access and theft of data by criminal or foreign government forces.
However, even if Olympic competitors wish to browse the internet on their burner phones, they still might not have ultimate access.
China pledged unlimited internet access to spectators, media and athletes during the 2008 Olympic Games, despite the fact that the Great Firewall of China currently censors a number of major websites in the nation, including Google, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Netflix and others. However, China did not appear to follow through on its pledge.
Journalists stated that they were still unable to access specific websites.
China has stated once again that athletes and journalists will have unrestricted internet access, although it is unclear whether the authorities will continue to ban some websites.
Meanwhile, according to other reports, ahead of the beginning of the Winter Olympics, Beijing city officials have announced that all 2 million people of a neighbourhood where a tiny cluster of Covid-19 infections was discovered will be examined.
Additionally, according to the latest reports, the Beijing 2022 Olympic organisers have identified 72 coronavirus cases among the 2,586 staff for the Games who arrived in China earlier this month.
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