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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 Seemonkeyscanfly on 7/31/2008 6:30:53 PM , Rating: 0
Who was the first democracy?
Greek city-states. Not the United States. The Greeks used a representative democracy upon which ours (the west) is loosely modeled.
Anyone raised in the USA knows this....or should, it was a big deal that our founding fathers models this Government after Greece and Ancient Roma.
You have quote the systems very well...but my point is, (even with all the writing in the world protecting the citizens) the USA is no longer a republic as it was created, it is more socialist and getting deeper and deeper into socialism. Which is not good if you like a republic world. Just remember we are truly following the steps of Roma. They went from a Republic, to Socialism, to a Dictator in 1200 years...the USA is on the same path but much faster. I would guess 300 to 400 years (from start to finish). The more socialistic mind people we put into office the less time we will have as a united country. Never has socialism successed, NEVER! Just short moments in time till to system collapses. And a republic does not last, because people are always willing to give up their freedom for a promise of something like protection. So, everyone has to work hard together to keep a republic or it is lost in time. Benjamin Franklin said something to the French press about the new government we created...I do not remember exact words, but to the effect of: “We gave the people a republic, now let's see how long they can keep it.”

Does that explain my thought better? :)

RE: And how is this a surprise?
By HsiKai on 7/31/2008 7:01:57 PM , Rating: 2
If you view history as just short moments, and in terms of the rest of the world the United States has not been around for very long, then there are a great number of successes and failures of every form of government. Looking at history too broadly and even the Romans weren't a successful civilization since they are not technically around.

However, you can't objectively look at "success" and "failure" without looking at what impact that government, society, or individual has had on the rest of the world. That is how progress is made, by taking those successes and improving upon them. We just can't let our definition of "success" become perverted.

Otherwise, I generally agree with your point that each administration is by definition a method of stalling the eventual collapse of what we perceive as our rights and government, however I do not think that we are now a socialist state. Though that might be a preferable alternative to the last eight years.

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/1/2008 11:04:11 AM , Rating: 2
I did not say we were socialist state. I said we are heading down the path of socialism (blindly). I also stated we are no longer a republic - that's just a fact. We see left overs from a republic state and think we are republic because we do not know better. We never lived in a republic state - unless you are over 100 years old. It's like growing up the poorest kid in the wealthiest city in the world. You might think you are poor because you have to wait a month to get the latest toy, or it needs to go on sale, or you do not have all the cool toys just a few of them. However the reality is, you have no idea what poor is like, because you never lived it or saw it. You would have no way to compare wealth from poor, because you only know levels of wealth. So, it is for most people in the US to understand a republic state....we think we know it but truth is we never live in one....Our parents never lived in one, and many of our grandparents never lived in one. We have no way of understand what it was like, other then reading about it in books, and most will not do that.

At one point you posted we need to fight for our rights. You are 100% correct. However, that's my point, over the years we have fought off big political changes, but let all the little ones go by. So now we do not even understand what we use to have and we are not fighting to keep it or bring it back around. Just remember, the more a politician say he wants to give you and control for you so you do not have to worry....the more of the republic he wants to take away from this nation.

Use your own noodle to figure out which one will take more of your freedom and rights. After all that one of the great right we do still have... to vote for whom we like best. However, do not kid yourself, I have not seen a politician who has fought for less government control and influence since Ronald Regan, the deregulation master. So, both current people will take more of your rights away, just who will leave you with more?

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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