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.
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
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
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
According to Australian newspaper The Age, the International Olympic
a formal apology Wednesday for “misleading” the world’s press about the
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.”