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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 FITCamaro on 7/31/2008 10:52:07 AM , Rating: 2
Sadly you're mostly right. I don't think everything will collapse though. But yes. The market needs to be allowed to fluctuate as it used to. Not continue to be propped up whenever something bad happens.

The problem is the idea that the government should step in and fix everything when something bad happens has flourished. And liberals love the idea of looking like saviors to the poor, down and out, and unwitting.


RE: And how is this a surprise?
By ats on 7/31/2008 2:12:13 PM , Rating: 4
Yes the poor, down and out, and unwitting like large wall street firms and banks...

This is what people get for voting republican though, bailouts and increased debt.

Republicans now own over 90% of the US national debt. Party of fiscal responsibility, yeah right!


RE: And how is this a surprise?
By FITCamaro on 7/31/2008 2:45:42 PM , Rating: 2
Uh...the recent housing bill and previous "Economic Stimulus" packages were crafted and pushed by Democrats. Bush signed them yes, but do not act like the Republicans were behind these measures.

House vote:
quote:
A ”yes” vote is a vote to pass the bill. Voting yes were 227 Democrats and 45 Republicans. Voting no were 3 Democrats and 149 Republicans.


Senate vote:
quote:
Voting yes were 43 Democrats, 27 Republicans and two independents. Voting no were 13 Republicans.


RE: And how is this a surprise?
By ats on 7/31/2008 3:07:08 PM , Rating: 2
So the bailouts in the financial industries don't count?

The Economic Stimulus package was proposed by Bush and pushed by Bush. Regardless of what you may or may not want, Bush IS the republican party atm and everything he does reflects on the republican party, just like Reagan and Bush 1 were the republican party and everything they did reflected on the republican party.

All three have the opportunity for fiscal responsibility and none availed them of that opportunity.


RE: And how is this a surprise?
By Alexvrb on 7/31/2008 7:00:14 PM , Rating: 3
Bush is not the republican party. That said, who is in Congress right now? How much longer are people going to let Congress off the hook and blame Bush for everything? Like the House and Senate in their entirety are blameless all these years? They're the biggest culprits, democrat and republican alike. They're all a bunch of windbags, especially the bush-finger-pointing-glass-house-living-stone-throw ing democrats we've got in there now. Like they're powerless to do anything.

That aside, even on a state government level a lot of us have problems that have nothing to do with Bush. I for one have ol' Kaine trying to increase gas taxes. I'd like to see him stripped of all his money, pay him $50K a year, and make him commute to work every day. See if he raises gas taxes then.


RE: And how is this a surprise?
By Ringold on 8/1/2008 1:13:49 AM , Rating: 3
So far, how many tax payer dollars have been spent "bailing out" the "financial industries"?

Woops. That's right. Zero. In fact, the Fed has made money off the Bear Stearn's sale. IndyMac also cost nothing; it was sold right off to another bank.

Yes, there is immense risk, particularly with Fannie & Freddie (which could, for bond investors, simply be renamed Freddie Pae). Don't fool yourself in to thinking Democrats are not also behind all of this. Barny Frank's plump face was all over the TV today, calling for more bailouts.

If you're going to attack the Republican's as being bailout-kings, I'd like for you to identify, with links to evidence, a few Democrat Senators on record of favoring a suspension of the implied Federal backing of Fannie & Freddie, as well as interfering with the Federal Reserve and requiring it to withdraw commercial banks access to funds.

It also appears you make the common liberal mistake of associating the Federal Reserve's acts and mistakes with those of who happens to occupy the White House at the time. The President of the United States, as you would know if you bothered to ever read the constitution, has no direct power over banks. The current problems can be traced back to a combination of forced subprime spending by banks in low-income areas by pressure groups like ACORN and lax monetary policy by Greenspan. Correctly identifying the origins of the credit crisis is, I suppose, too boring and intellectual of an exercise for liberals though. Far easier to point a finger and whine.


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