Germany and the United States are the latest nations to join the Olympic Committees of Great Britain, Canada and the Netherlands in warning their athletes and staff members about possible surveillance by Chinese authorities at the Olympics. Winter Olympics in Beijing 2022. They were advised not to travel with their personal mobile phones and laptops.
Anyone traveling to the Beijing Olympics is required to document their health through the My2022 smartphone app, however a cybersecurity report from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab found that inadequate encryption measures within the app can leaving Olympians, journalists and officials vulnerable to hackers, privacy breaches and surveillance.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the risk of espionage around Beijing 2022 has prompted the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) to send out warnings to athletes last year informing them that “every device, communication, transaction, and online activity can be monitored,” for which encourages them to carry disposable phones that can be destroyed when they return home instead of taking their own.
This same measure was adopted by the Canadian Olympic Committee, in addition to recommending “limit the personal information stored in the devices wear to the Games and practice good cyber hygiene at all times.”
According to the Citizen Lab study, “the app’s security flaws violate not only Google’s unwanted software policy and AppStore guidelines, but also China’s own laws and national standards related to privacy protection.” Privacy”.
The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that the German Olympic Sports Confederation has asked its delegation members not to download the app on their personal phones, instead advising them to leave them at home.
The British Olympic Committee told Insidethegames that it “has given athletes and staff practical advice so that they can make their own decision on whether or not to bring their personal devices to the Games”; while the Dutch Olympic Committee and the Sports Federation (NOC and NSF) will provide athletes and support staff with phones and laptops that will be disposed of when they return from the Chinese capital.
A report from the non-profit organization, ChinaFile, retrieved by Fortune, detailed in 2020 that the nation deployed as a global surveillance superpower by owning half of all surveillance cameras in use in the world. From 2010 to 2019, government purchases of equipment such as facial recognition cameras and surveillance-related maintenance services increased nearly 1,900 percent.
“These systems are now being used for seemingly innocuous tasks, such as monitoring visitors at tourist sites and conducting security checks at airports, and for more invasive purposes, such as predictive surveillance and helping implement repressive policies. Authorities in the western province of Xinjiang, for example, have deployed extensive facial recognition, smartphone and other tracking data surveillance systems to monitor and detain members of the region’s minority Uyghur population.
Previously, Beijing promised athletes they would have uncensored internet access during the Games that start on February 4, removing the “Great Firewall” at official venues and hotels. Currently, popular foreign social networking sites such as Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as Google Inc.’s main search engine and Gmail service, are inaccessible in China without specialized software due to the government’s belief that these could be a destabilizing force for society and even endanger security.
The growing concern about espionage and the diplomatic boycott of Beijing 2022, as a claim for human rights violations, oppose China’s mission to show its best image to the world through the Winter Olympics.