Suspicion, paranoia and burner phones seem to be the priorities as we lead up to the Beijing Olympics next month. With that kind of toxic starting point, it hardly seems worthwhile.
The on-going and continually escalating trade war between the US and China has already had an impact on what should be a celebration of sports prowess and achievement. Already there is a diplomatic boycott in place, which has irritated China and triggered another war of words.
Now, both journalists and athletes are being advised (strongly) to use burner phones when in China. And rental laptops.
The suspicion is that China will try to extract as much information from any source that sits still long enough and that visitors to China for the Olympics should expect an avalanche of malware, trojans and assorted nasties to bombard them as they disembark the airplane.
The suspicion is not only that covert means will be used to collect data but that China will be able to seize whatever devices it likes and search them.
The Olympic Committee in the US has warned that “it should be assumed that all data and communications in China can be monitored, compromised or blocked.”
It doesn’t help that a major flaw has been discovered in the app that athletes use to monitor Covid infections – that allows access to health information, as well as voice messages and other data.
The Olympics could hardly have come at a worse time for both China and the US.
As the US bans its most advanced technology from being exported to China – and puts pressure on its allies to follow suit, China continues its journey into isolation.
Its most recent announcement is that, according to Richard Windsor and sources close to the issue, permission will be needed by large companies if they want to invest in smaller, innovative organisations.
Suspicion is the name of the game between these supposed superpowers. Burner phones, cloak and dagger operations, stealing data and using Covid as a perfect excuse for banning or controlling people.
It should sound like a spy movie but it actually sounds like a bad kids’ movie.