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US Olympic athletes urged to leave phones behind


Image of the article titled US Olympic Athletes Urge to Leave Phones Behind Chinese Monitoring Concerns

Photo: China News Service (Getty Images)

US Olympic athletes heading to Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics are being advised to pack a one-time phone and familiarize themselves with VPNs to avoid potential Chinese government surveillance.

The guidance, sent out by the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee in an advisory document in September and a subsequent bulletin in December, warns athletes that all their online communications, transactions and activities could be subject to state surveillance while competing in China. the documents, look By The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, they warned athletes that their devices could be targeted with malware or spyware.

“Despite any and all safeguards put in place to protect systems and data brought into China, it should be assumed that all data and communications in China can be monitored, hacked or blocked,” the release said. according to USA Today. If athletes decide to take their own devices, how-to tips recommend at least clearing the devices of any personal data beforehand

The United States is not alone in this is. In recent days the Olympic federations of AustraliaAnd Britain, and the Holland They all issued similar cybersecurity warnings to their players, with the latter two claiming that they would be giving competitors temporary burning devices.

British Olympic Association spokesman Tell Watchman. “Wherever they don’t want to take their own devices, we have made temporary devices available for them to use.”

Gizmodo has reached out to both TeamUSA and the International Olympic Committee for comment regarding increased monitoring concerns but has yet to hear back.

News of the security alerts also comes about one week after the White House announce Diplomatic boycott of upcoming games. Canada, the UK and Australia soon followed suit and announce Their similar diplomatic boycott days later. The recently-allied Chinese newspaper, Global Times, published An opinion piece in response to boycotts and growing international concerns about surveillance in which they downplayed the criticism as “based on fake news, ignorance and the actions of the West”.

Concerns about surveillance at the 2022 Winter Games aren’t entirely new, but this represents the most significant attempt yet by the United States to provide cybersecurity warnings. It’s not just about athletes. Late last year, the group Reporters Without Borders put on a similar show warning For reporters looking to cover the event. In this case, RWB advised journalists not to download Chinese apps that could potentially allow government surveillance.

Espionage and state espionage in the general sense have a long history in the Olympic Games. Ghosts and spies representing security states have appeared on a regular basis, and have even succeeded in some cases with athletes. For example, Dave Syme was an American runner who won a silver medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, who was famous for collaborating with the CIA as part of a larger operation to persuade Ukrainian athletes to withdraw to the West, according to Watchman. And as recently as 2016, NBC News Analytics Secret documents claimed that US intelligence agencies assigned more than 1,000 spies to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in an effort to enhance security.

It is also not uncommon for host countries to tighten security and surveillance before and during an event. But critics and civil liberties advocates have warned that these efforts can often go too far. This may have been the case during the Sochi Winter Games 2014, for example, when the Russian government created a powerful new surveillance device capable of intercepting metadata and full phone conversations, internet activity, according to the edge. Government officials have reportedly referred to this Olympic era as the “Ring of Steel” panopticon.



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