Team USA warns Olympic athletes to leave personal mobile devices at home in favor of BURNER phones due to Chinese surveillance problems at Beijing Winter Games: ‘All data can be checked’
- Team USA and other Olympic teams advise athletes to leave personal mobile devices at home in favor of ‘burner’ phones during Beijing 2022 Games
- The advice suggests athletes, coaches and trainers use rental or disposable electronic devices while in Beijing, or at the very least erase all personal data
- Canada, the Netherlands, Australia and Great Britain have issued similar warnings
- Game organizers did not say that athletes’ data will not be collected, but instead promise that any information obtained will not be misused
- The Beijing Winter Games start on February 4 and close on February 20
In an apparent effort to thwart potential Chinese surveillance, Team USA and several other national Olympic squads are advising athletes to leave personal mobile devices at home instead of “burning” phones during the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.
“Like computers, data and applications on mobile phones are subject to malicious intrusion, infection and data corruption,” explains a technology bulletin distributed by Team USA.
The advice suggests athletes, coaches and trainers use rental or disposable electronic devices while in Beijing, or at the very least erase all personal data before and during the trip. Virtual private networks, which can reduce risks to users, are also recommended.
“Despite all precautions taken to protect the systems and data brought into China, it should be assumed that all data and communications in China can be monitored, compromised or blocked,” the bulletin reads.
A woman takes pictures with her mobile phone of a figure skating sculpture created for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, in the Shougang Industrial Park, which will be used as a venue for sports and other events during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics
Jon Mason, a spokesperson for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, told USA Today that the organization has been working with the individual national governing bodies for each sport to determine the best strategy for the Winter Games, which begin Feb. 4.
Game organizers are fighting the perception that athletes’ data is unsafe in Beijing. But rather than promise not to collect any personal information, the committee simply said the information would not be misused.
“The Chinese government attaches great importance to the protection of personal information,” said a statement from the Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee.
“Personal information collected by Beijing 2022 will not be made public unless the disclosure is necessary,” the organizing committee said. “Information from accredited media representatives will only be used for purposes related to the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”
Despite the organizing committee’s attempt to allay the fears, other national Olympic teams are advising athletes to leave their personal phones at home.
For example, the Dutch authorities came straight forward and said they were “anticipating Chinese surveillance during the Games.”
Meanwhile, the Canadian Olympic Committee was more diplomatic in its warning to athletes, saying the Beijing Games “present a unique opportunity for cybercrime.”
‘[It is] recommended that [athletes] be extra diligent at Games, including considering leaving personal devices at home, limiting personal information stored on devices brought to the Games, and practicing good cyber hygiene at all times.”
Spokespersons for the Australian and British Olympic Committees told USA Today they have issued similar warnings.
Although the warnings are new to athletes, they are commonplace in the US State Department.
“Hotel rooms (including conference rooms), offices, cars, taxis, telephones, Internet usage, digital payments and fax machines may be monitored locally or remotely, and personal belongings in hotel rooms, including computers, may be searched without your consent or knowledge,” it reads. an advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.