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Chinese Authorities Order Olympic Hotels To Install Spy Gear

August 1, 2008

Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback claims foreign-owned hotels have been asked
to install Internet monitoring equipment to spy on hotel guests
during the Beijing Games.
By Thomas Claburn
InformationWeek
July 29, 2008

In an apparent mistranslation of the concept of hospitality, Chinese
authorities have ordered foreign-owned hotels to install Internet
monitoring equipment to spy on hotel guests during the Olympic Games,
U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, charged on Tuesday.

"I am very disappointed that the Chinese government will not follow
through on its promise to the International Olympic Committee to
maintain an environment free of government censorship during the
Games," Brownback said in a statement. "The Chinese government has
put in place a system to spy on and gather information about every
guest at hotels where Olympic visitors are staying. This means
journalists, athletes' families and other visitors will be subjected
to invasive intelligence gathering by the Chinese Public Security Bureau."

According to a news release issued by the senator's office, Chinese
authorities have ordered foreign-owned hotels to install a software
program and a hardware device to help the Public Security Bureau spy
on hotel guests. Several hotel chains have reportedly confirmed the
existence of this order and provided documentation to Brownback.

A spokesperson for Brownback was not immediately available.

News service Reuters quoted one of the documents thus: "In order to
ensure the smooth opening of Olympic in Beijing and the Expo in
Shanghai in 2010, safeguard the security of Internet network and the
information thereon in the hotels ... it is required that your
company install and run the Security Management System."

Brownback said that the hotels have asked not to be named for fear of
reprisals.

Chinese authorities have been accused of similar behavior before. In
May, The Associated Press reported that Chinese officials may have
covertly copied the contents of a U.S. government laptop computer
that was left unattended during a visit by Commerce Secretary Carlos
M. Gutierrez.

Given that the U.S. National Security Agency has been monitoring
Internet and telephone communications since warrantless wiretapping
was authorized in 2001, there seems to be more resignation than
outrage among potential visitors to China.

As one person commenting on Reuters' coverage remarked, "Bad enough I
have the U.S. government snooping on my Internet and telephone
activity. To heck with going to China to have them do it to me too.
Think I'll save my money and blood pressure and just stay home and
watch them on the TV."
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