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Journalists, fans, and support staff betrayed by false "open internet" pledge

A secret order to foreign-owned Chinese hotels compels them to spy on guests during the Olympic Games, according to a memo revealed Tuesday by U.S. Senator Sam Brownback.

Brownback, a republican representing Kansas, said he received a document issued by the Chinese Public Security bureau, which orders hotels to install spying equipment on their internet connections and threatens owners with “severe retaliation” – including the possibility of losing their operating licenses – should they fail to comply.

“These hotels are justifiably outraged by this order,” said Brownback at a news conference Tuesday, noting that it forces them into the “awkward position” of having to “craft pop-up messages” informing guests of their loss of privacy.

Brownback said he received a copy of the original document, translated from Chinese, from attorneys representing two different “foreign-owned” hotel chains. The companies want to remain anonymous so that they don’t face further reprisal. Several other international hotel chains confirmed the order.

An AP report said the Chinese embassy was unavailable for comment.

According to the memo, hotels were told that “all hotel rooms and offices” are considered subject to “on-site or remote technical monitoring at all times.”

With little more than a week remaining before the 2008 Summer Olympics begin in Beijing, Chinese hotel owners appear to have little choice. Despite their outrage, hotel companies are more concerned about the long-term repercussions of non-compliance – failure to obey could place an entire company’s operations in jeopardy, potentially locking them out of a lucrative, growing Chinese market.

Meanwhile, athletes and participants staying at the Olympic Village have a unique set of woes for their internet access: an IT contractor recently leaked a list of rates for DSL service charged by BOCOG (Beijing Organizing Committee of the 2008 Olympic Games), with the cheapest option being a 512/512 kilobit line available for 11,700 RMB ($1716.05 USD). 

“I just can't believe that not only do I have to deal with the Great Firewall of China, but also pay through the nose to use it!” wrote the anonymous contractor.

According to Australian newspaper The Age, the International Olympic Committee issued a formal apology Wednesday for “misleading” the world’s press about the China’s “open internet” pledge. Senior IOC member Kevan Gosper, who originally delivered the promise of “unfettered freedom to report in China,” said he was unaware of the apparently backroom negotiations with Chinese censors, which will keep a number of “sensitive sites” blocked from access.

Age reporters said they were unable to access a number of sites involving human rights discussions, Tibet, and the Falun Gong, with merely intermittent access to a larger portfolio of websites including the New York Times, BBC China, al-Jazeera, Radio Free Asia, and Taiwanese newspapers.

 BOCOG spokesman Sun Weide said that China promised journalists that they would “be able to use the internet for their work during the Olympic Games. So we have given them sufficient access to do that.”

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RE: And how is this a surprise?
By Master Kenobi on 7/31/2008 8:34:43 AM , Rating: 2
It's communism, you can do whatever you want and they know it.

RE: And how is this a surprise?
By WTFiSJuiCE on 7/31/2008 3:43:07 PM , Rating: 4
It's not communism, its a socialist-authoritarian gov't that was built on communist ideals just like the Soviet Union was.

If it was communism, there'd be no gov't and there would be no class divisions or oppression since everyone would be equal.

Socialism and Capitalism, according to Marx, are merely steps taken before the step to True Communism is made; so in his dead eyes, the U.S. is actually closer to Communism than China is. =\

Communism always gets a bad rap since Revolutions based on Communistic ideals succeed and then soon fall into dictatorships simply because the leaders realize the power they really have.

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 7/31/2008 5:20:29 PM , Rating: 2
Humans can never live in a pure communist or pure republican Government. For either to exist in a pure state (which would mean no military, police...) would mean all man would treat each other fair, no stealing, no cheating, no lying, no murder, you could only do the right thing for others. This is 100% against human nature. We (if good up bringing) are taught at an early age how to share and take turns. No one was born with these ideals.
In communist the government decides how to distribute wealth (not good, means a man some where controls this). In a republic the people and market place distribute the wealth...(this is good because it's hard for one man or small group to control the whole market place.)

RE: And how is this a surprise?
By Ringold on 8/1/2008 12:57:50 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know why people decide to be so anal about political vocabulary. FFS, the meanings change by the decade. If you all want to be picky, then the Democrat party is an extreme right-wing conservative party, the Republican party harbors many liberals -- but not nearly as radical of liberals as the Libertarian Party does.

Liberal, in the original American sense, was an ideology in favor of free-market capitalism and a minimal state. Outside of economics ("liberalized" labor markets, etc), however, who actually uses it that way?

Ya'll remind me of Catholics. Lets all pray in Latin. Nevermind 99% of us don't know Latin. That's the way it originally was, and now we must stick to it!

RE: And how is this a surprise?
By danrien on 8/1/2008 3:26:32 PM , Rating: 2
Catholics haven't prayed in Latin since the turn of the 20th century at least.

By WTFiSJuiCE on 8/1/2008 4:28:45 PM , Rating: 2
Catholics pray? (couldn't resist >.<)

By WTFiSJuiCE on 8/1/2008 4:56:50 PM , Rating: 3
I dun really feel that i'm being anal by pointing that out, but then again if my post was anal, wouldn't it be just as anal,if not moreso, to take the time out and post what you did?

I simply pointed out that there's a difference between Socialists, Authoritarians, and Communism. People are still blurring the lines because back when Stalin took over the Communist Party, which paved his way to becoming the ruthless dictator that he was. Just because people were made to work on communal farms back then does not make it Communism, it makes it FORCED LABOR! If you have a dictatorship, then its not Communism, its a DICTATORSHIP (a.k.a. Totalitarian regime)!

So many Americans unforunately are ignorant(not idiots, just uninformed) of what Communism is because of the horrible stigmas it received after revolutions based on the Marxist ideals turned from fights for freedom into Large Dictatorships and Authoritarian gov'ts that opposed the American ideals and capitalistic way of life. Even today we hear the word Communism or Socialism and i'll guarantee at least 3 out of 10 if not more will start spewing out some McCarthy type jargon about how Communism and Socialism is = to things like Satan or Tom Cruise

Terms don't change, people use the same terms to explain the beliefs that their nations were created on, yet are now only partially true as to what their nation really is now.

Either way, I guess we'll just hafta be anal together bro. Cheers! :D

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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