Hotels to spy on Olympics guests, says US senator

Senator Sam Brownback said China is forcing foreign-owned hotels to install eavesdropping equipment.

Kansas Senator Sam Brownback reiterated accusations Tuesday that China is forcing foreign-owned hotels to install electronic eavesdropping equipment ahead of next month's Olympics.

The network monitoring equipment, which Brownback claims includes both hardware and software, will allow the country's Public Security Bureau to monitor the Internet activities of guests and collate records of what they do online.

"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," the Republican senator said in a statement. "This means journalists, athletes' families and other visitors will be subjected to invasive intelligence gathering by the Chinese Public Security Bureau."

Brownback first made these accusations in early May, without citing the names of any of the hotel chains allegedly involved. He said that he now has copies of translations of the original order, which "alludes to harsh punishment for failure to comply with the order," the statement said.

"The hotels have asked us to preserve their anonymity; in order to protect their safety, and in return for their courage in coming forward, I cannot divulge their identities...On the other hand, these hotel chains have invested millions of dollars in their Chinese properties, and while they wish to find a way to reverse this order, if they are specifically identified, they could face severe retaliation by the Communist government," Brownback said.

Brownback's accusations book-end allegations made in June by two US Congressmen that China-based hackers had attacked computers in their offices, including ones that may have contained information on Chinese dissidents.

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Steven Schwankert

InfoWorld

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