Published: January 26, 2022
The US athletes representing the country at the Beijing Winter Olympics are instructed to use burner phones over malicious software and surveillance concerns.
The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee asked their athletes not to use their personal phones, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Last year, the committee had sent two notices warning athletes they were worried about malicious software and surveillance. They stated that every device and online communication could be tracked and monitored.
The committee’s concerns are guided by recent perpetrations done by China. The app that China said all athletes have to install on their phones is full of issues that could cause security breaches and privacy leaks.
Additionally, back in 2019, China was installing spyware on phones belonging to tourists who entered the Xinjiang region, the highly-surveilled area chiefly populated by the minority Muslim population.
On top of that, this is not the first time the US committee issued such a warning. In 2008, during the Summer Olympics, they advised all tourists that bringing their personal devices could expose their personal information and more.
Things have also changed since China has banned foreign spectators due to Covid-19 restrictions. That means the players will mainly rely on their mobile phones to stay connected with their families and friends.
Other countries besides the US have the same concern. Canada, the Netherlands, and Great Britain have also advised their athletes against bringing their personal devices into China.
No matter what phone they use, athletes won’t be guaranteed access to everything on the internet. The Great Firewall of China restricts its citizens’ access to specific sites, such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc., and entirely blocks access to others.
They promised the same thing in the months leading up to this year’s Winter Olympics. However, we can’t determine if they’ll return to their promise this time.