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Team USA warns athletes of Chinese phone surveillance at Olympics, encourages ‘burner phones’: Report

Team USA warns athletes of Chinese phone surveillance at Olympics, encourages 'burner phones': Report

Team USA prepares to send its athletes to the Beijing Olympics with the games a few weeks away, but the trip reportedly comes with a serious caveat: keep your personal phones at home.

The US Olympic team warned athletes traveling to Beijing to be wary of possible digital surveillance by the Chinese government abroad. USA today reported Thursday.

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A woman wearing a face mask to protect against COVID-19 sits on a pedestrianized shopping street in Beijing, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, near landscaping decorated with the logos for the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

“Like computers, the data and applications on mobile phones are subject to malicious intrusion, infection and data corruption,” Team USA’s advisory reportedly stated, adding that “burner phones” were “encouraged.”

The Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee told the newspaper that China takes the importance of protecting personal data seriously.

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Student activists wear masks in the colors of East Turkistan's pro-independence flag during a demonstration to protest the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing outside the Chinese embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, January 14, 2022.

Student activists wear masks in the colors of East Turkistan’s pro-independence flag during a demonstration to protest the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing outside the Chinese embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, January 14, 2022.
(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

“Personal information collected by Beijing 2022 will not be disclosed unless disclosure is necessary,” the committee said. “Information from accredited media representatives will only be used for purposes related to the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”

Team USA was not the only country to warn of possible Chinese surveillance.

Canadian athletes were also warned.

Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge said: The Canadian Press that protecting laptops and mobile phones was a priority.

The Netherlands Olympic Committee said it “anticipated Chinese surveillance during the games”.

Olympic rings mounted atop a tower stand out near a ski resort on the outskirts of Beijing, China, Thursday, January 13, 2022.

Olympic rings mounted atop a tower stand out near a ski resort on the outskirts of Beijing, China, Thursday, January 13, 2022.
(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

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The Olympics start on February 4.