It won’t be all fun and (Olympics) games for media representatives in Beijing, notes Grumpy Editor. The Chinese, reversing an earlier pledge, declare 5,000 foreign journalists will be unable to access some sites on the Internet from the Main Press Center and other locations.
Then, aside from inhaling air pollution, reporters face the threat of cyberspying by Chinese computer hackers.
Foreign reporters attending the Beijing Olympics, Aug. 8 to Aug. 24, will not have access to some sites considered sensitive by the host nation. Just two weeks ago, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said he was assured there would be no Internet blockage.
The censored Internet is the latest broken promise on press freedoms, reports Stephen Wade, Associated Press writer. “In bidding for the games seven years ago,” reminds Wade, “Chinese officials said the media would have ‘complete freedom to report’.”
Wade also notes some on-scene journalists, in attempting to go on the Internet this week, complain about slow speeds, with several mentioning the sluggishness might be an intentional ploy to discourage use.
Meanwhile, on the security side, there is concern about dangers to U.S. laptop computers and cellphones.
Spy tactics, reveals Siobhan Gorman in The Wall Street Journal, “include copying information contained in laptop computers at airport checkpoints or hotel rooms, wirelessly inserting spyware on BlackBerry devices, and a new technique dubbed ‘slurping’ that uses Bluetooth technology to steal data from electronic devices.”
State and Commerce Departments officials are mum on this aspect “for fear of offending the Chinese” in business and diplomatic relationships, mentions Gorman.
But there is a bright side to the 2008 Summer Olympics: NBC, and its associate channels, will broadcast the events in high-definition television.