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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 8/1/2008 10:26:15 AM , Rating: 2
FBI can not investigate anyone without probably reason/cause.

Yes they can, you remember the warrantless wiretaps? Those were illegal until Congress passed - or will pass - that telecom amnesty/immunity.

You just proved my point...No they can not. If congress is to vote to pass it to make it legal then it's illegal. So, no they can not. These were illegal and they also only used on International calls. Something people tend to forget.

Perhaps the FBI can't, but the CIA can. As well, the U.S. doesn't have to respect international courts or the Geneva Convention when they do it.

Aaaaa... No, you rights as a US citizen extends over all Government offices. They too can not touch you unless you have given them reason. You might be watching to many Hollywood movies. Can things get mixed up a bit once in a while? Sure, but the truth usually comes out. Again, nothing is perfect.

As well, the U.S. doesn't have to respect international courts or the Geneva Convention when they do it.

I'm guessing you are talking about times when the USA goes against the current UN staff. The reason the US has not gotten into trouble when seemingly going against the UN, is because the US is normally sticking to the original plan and the UN is altering course (the UN tends to change plans every 10 or more years). So, when the US says, No this is the original plan and we are sticking to it...the UN can not say no, because they are the ones who created the plan. Example: Iraq – Saddom Hussein after losing in 1992 was given strict set of rules to follow – allow inspectors in (without notice), report on missing chemicals and diseases (given to them by the US disease control center for study), do not participate in training of terroristic type of people, and so on (Remember they lost...being punished for invading Kuwait). fast forward about 10 years... Iraq had fulfilled none (zero) of the required steps. The US demand actions from the UN. The UN tried to back out saying oh this is not right, but the reality is US pointed out, this is the action demand by the UN if these conditions were not met. Most people tend to forget that side of the story, because the want to “create” their own new dictator verse seeing the real and cruel one being removed.

RE: And how is this a surprise?
By HsiKai on 8/1/2008 8:07:58 PM , Rating: 2
You just proved my point...No they can not. If congress is to vote to pass it to make it legal then it's illegal. So, no they can not. These were illegal and they also only used on International calls. Something people tend to forget.

It is illegal to make a law that absolves an illegal action. It is illegal to take something that is legal and prosecute it after passing a law that makes that act illegal..

That is the big deal here, that the United States of America is passing legislation that absolves our prior actions. There is no apology; there is only the government giving the law, the constitution, and our civil rights the finger.

Now that there has been a precedent set it gives the rest of the government a blank check as to what they can and cannot due, assuming they have an administration that is lenient with them.

RE: And how is this a surprise?
By HsiKai on 8/3/2008 7:06:26 PM , Rating: 2
Speaking of precedent, this furthers my point that now the government can walk in and do what they want with the expectation that society will either not take notice, or not take action:

Two FBI agents walked into a public library in Maryland, without a warrant, and walked out with two computers. The library director agreed to release the machines to these smooth-talking feds. According to the article, the director of Frederick County Public Libraries indicated that this was the third time in his 10 years there that the FBI had requested records, but the first time they had come without a court order. The director seemed to indicate no regrets, stating 'It was a decision I made on my experience and the information given to me.' He further justified his actions, noting that the agents indicated specific computers they needed (of the several dozen in the library) and further that they 'had an awful lot of information.'


Here's to another four years of McCainonomics and complacency!

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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