Build a digital shield against COVID-19 together at the Beijing Olympics, not hype ‘cybersecurity’ for political show
Published: Jan 29, 2022 03:17 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will begin in only a few days and the world is waiting keenly in anticipation.  
With the continuing spread, growing variants and sporadic outbreaks of COVID-19, the life and health of people from all countries are being exposed to severe threats. COVID-19 has also significantly influenced the Olympic Games, considering the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics for one year. Beijing, as the first city to hold both the Summer and Winter Olympics, now comes under the spotlight. The world is waiting to see whether Beijing can host the Winter Olympics with high quality and overcome all difficulties posed by COVID-19 at the same time.
Beijing is well prepared to host the Winter Olympics with its smart and digital anti-COVID-19 measures. Science and technology are the sharpest weapons for human beings to fight against diseases. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, a new generation of information technology, represented by the Internet, big data and artificial intelligence, has flourished and played an important role in supporting accurate identification, targeted measures and precise prevention and control of the coronavirus. It is worth noting that the use of digital technology to improve the efficiency of anti-COVID-19 measures has become a common practice not only in China, but also in other countries around the world. In order to prevent and control COVID-19 during the Winter Olympics in a comprehensive and smart way, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympics provides the "My 2022" APP. It combines necessary functions such as "health codes" to provide real-time pandemic information service for registered people who engage in the Winter Olympics, therefore providing effective assurance for COVID-19 prevention empowered by digital means to ensure safe gathering for the Winter Olympics.

Inherent nature of the digital shield: personal information protection 
Protection of personal information is an inherent requirement of China's digital COVID-19 prevention and control measures. In order to protect personal information in the nationwide prevention and control of COVID-19, the Cyberspace Administration of China issued a specific regulation to emphasize that the related collection of personal information should be in line with relevant national standards, adhere to the principle of minimum needs, and should not be used for other purposes, and information theft and leakage must be prevented at all costs. Illegal activities should be severely cracked down on according to the law. The Beijing Organizing Committee stressed that all actions should strictly abide by China's Personal Information Protection Law and relevant regulations.
China is a firm defender and practitioner of cybersecurity and data security. In recent years, China's Cybersecurity Law, Data Security Law and Personal Information Protection Law were introduced successively, offering a solid legal basis for personal information protection. China was the first country to propose an international initiative in the field of data security, namely, the Global Initiative on Data Security, which contributes to solving major issues including the protection of personal information.

Enough with politicizing 'cybersecurity'
Regrettably, after some countries announced their so-called diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, a few more countries staged a farce of "cybersecurity" in a hilarious way, harping on about malware attacks and other risks concerning the "My 2022" APP, claiming it is a data security and personal privacy threat. A certain Western research institute deliberately issued a report, accusing the "My 2022" APP of collecting sensitive personal information and having security vulnerabilities. Such groundless rhetoric is completely false and fabricated for the purpose of discrediting China.
The truth is that the "My 2022" APP can withstand all kinds of tests. The spokesperson of the Beijing Organizing Committee clearly said that the type of data collected is clearly stated in the user agreement and privacy policy, and the APP has been reviewed by the International Olympic Committee. The "My 2022" APP has passed scrutiny from overseas APP stores run by Google, Apple and Samsung. Encryption and other security measures are adopted to protect personal information of users in the APP. The International Olympic Committee publicly said that the "My 2022" APP has been independently assessed by two cybersecurity testing organizations and found to have no critical vulnerabilities. The International Olympic Committee adds that it is not compulsory for athletes or others to install "My 2022" on their mobile devices, as accredited personnel can log on to the health monitoring system on the web page instead.
The Winter Olympic Games should never be a stage for political shows. As we all fight against the pandemic, we should give top priority to people's lives. Getting in the way of the Games under the pretexts of "cybersecurity" out of political bias or even secret schemes definitely shows no respect for the spirit of the Olympic Charter. Such behaviors also unveil the narrowness and prejudice of some people.
The final countdown of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games is already underway. Upholding the principle of fostering a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace, China is all set to deliver a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympic Games.

The author is an observer of international affairs. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn