American Olympic athletes traveling to Beijing for this year’s 2022 Winter Olympics are advised to pack a disposable burner phone and get acquainted with virtual private networks to avoid possible Chinese government surveillance.
The guidelines, issued by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committees in an advisory document in September and in a bulletin the following December, reportedly warned athletes that all their communications, transactions and online activities could be subject to state scrutiny when competing in China. Papers, See The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, also warned athletes that their devices could be targeted by malicious malware or spyware.
The Bulletin states that “in spite of any and all security measures in place for the protection of systems and data brought into China, it should be assumed that all data and communications in China may be monitored, compromised or blocked.” According to USA Today. If athletes decide to have their own device, the consultant recommends that they delete at least any personal data devices in advance.
The United States is not alone This. For the Olympic Association in recent days Australia, Britain, And The Netherlands All have issued similar cyber security warnings to their athletes, the next two claiming they will offer competitors temporary burner devices.
A spokesman for the British Olympic Association said: “We have given practical advice to athletes and staff so that they can make their own choices about whether or not to take their personal devices to the game.” To say Guardian. “Where they do not want to take their own equipment, we have arranged temporary devices for their use.”
Gizmodo has reached out to both TeamUSA and the International Olympic Committee to comment on growing surveillance concerns but has yet to hear back.
News of the security alert came just a week after the White House Announcement The upcoming game is a diplomatic boycott. Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia followed suit Announcement Days later a similar diplomatic boycott of their own. Recently, China’s state alliance Global Times magazine Published An op-ed in response to growing international concerns about boycotts and surveillance, where they have reduced criticism to “fake news, ignorance and based on Westerners’ own actions.”
Concerns about surveillance for the 2022 Winter Games are not entirely new, but it marks the most significant effort by the United States to offer cyber security alerts. The problem is not limited to athletes. Late last year, Reporters Without Borders Group made a similar proposal Caution Journalists want to cover the incident. In that case, RWB advised journalists not to download Chinese applications that could potentially allow for government surveillance.
The Olympic Games have a long history of espionage and state espionage in the general sense. Spooks and spies representing the security state have been regularly present and in some cases acted With Athlete Dave Sim, a U.S. sprinter who won silver at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, was known to the CIA as part of a larger operation in the West to accuse Ukrainian athletes of wrongdoing. According to Guardian. Most recently in 2016, An NBC News Analysis Secret documents claim that US intelligence agencies recruited more than 1,000 spies for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in an effort to bolster security.
It is not uncommon for host countries to increase security and surveillance before and during the event. Critics and civil liberties advocates, however, warn that these efforts can often go too far. This could be the case during the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, for example, when the Russian government developed a powerful new surveillance device capable of allegedly intercepting metadata, a complete phone conversation. And Internet activity, According to Edge. Government officials have described the Olympic-era Panopticon as a “ring of steel.”