Why the FBI is telling athletes to take burner phones to the Beijing Winter Olympics

The FBI has warned athletes travelling to the Beijing Winter Olympics not to use their personal phones.

The intelligence service has suggested those travelling to China use burner or temporary devices for the duration of the Games.

The FBI said the measures were in order to avoid potential “malicious cyber activities.”

FBI encourages the use of burner phones as Beijing Winter Olympics gets underway

The FBI has warned that mobile applications could make the phone’s user vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.

“The FBI warns Olympic participants and travellers of potential threats associated with mobile applications developed by untrusted vendors,” it said in a statement.

“The download and use of applications, including those required to participate or stay in country, could increase the opportunity for cyber actors to steal personal information or install tracking tools, malicious code, or malware.” 

“The FBI urges all athletes to keep their personal cell phones at home and use a temporary phone while at the Games. 

Additionally, the FBI said it was “not aware of any specific cyber threat against the Olympics but encourages partners to remain vigilant and maintain best practices in their network and digital environments.”

When does the Beijing Winter Olympics begin?

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will officially begin with the opening ceremony at the Beijing National Stadium on February 4.

The first events have already taken place with sports like curling and luge holding their opening rounds on February 2.

Furthermore, the winner of the women’s cross country skiing on February 5 will receive the first medal of the Games.

Countries set to boycott the Games over China’s human rights record

The Beijing Winter Olympics is getting underway against a backdrop of controversy. 

The UK, US and Canada are politically boycotting the Games. As a result, there will be no government officials in attendance.

All three are doing so in response to China’s human rights record.

The countries accused the Beijing government of committing atrocities against the Uyghur Muslim population in the northwest province of Xinjiang.

According to the BBC, more than one million Uyghurs have been detained over the past few years. Hundreds of thousands have been sentenced to prison terms.

Similarly, German ministers are boycotting the Games in protest of the treatment of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai. She went missing for nearly three weeks after she made allegations of sexual assault against former vice-premier of China, Zhang Gaoli.