Attention Olympics fans: Beijing wants your data

Feng Li/Getty Images The last thing Beijing wants to see at the Olympic opening ceremonies on August 8 is Tibetan flags, “Stop genocide in Darfur” signs, or similar such provocations from “troublemakers.” And given Beijing’s paranoia, it’s hardly surprising that this year’s opening and closing ceremonies are going to have some of the tightest security ...

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594678_080611_boca2.jpg
SANYA - MAY 05: Chinese citizens buy Olympic tickets at a branch of Bank of China on May 5, 2008 in Sanya of Hainan province, China. The phase three of Olympic ticket sales for the Chinese mainland kicked off on May 5. About 1.38 million Olympic tickets are sold on a first come, first serve basis during this phase. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

Feng Li/Getty Images

The last thing Beijing wants to see at the Olympic opening ceremonies on August 8 is Tibetan flags, "Stop genocide in Darfur" signs, or similar such provocations from "troublemakers." And given Beijing's paranoia, it's hardly surprising that this year's opening and closing ceremonies are going to have some of the tightest security of any event, ever.

Each ticket for the ceremonies will have a microchip embedded with the user's photograph, passport details, addresses, emails, and telephone numbers. All event tickets also have microchips to prevent counterfeiting, but only the ceremony tickets will contain the personal data. Some have raised fears of data theft, and others question whether activists known to the Chinese authorities could even attempt to attend, since many of them are being detained or at least closely watched ahead of the games. Perhaps the biggest concern is that the tickets will be too effective: If you are attending the ceremonies with a few friends or family members and your tickets get switched among you, expect big delays at the gates.

Feng Li/Getty Images

The last thing Beijing wants to see at the Olympic opening ceremonies on August 8 is Tibetan flags, “Stop genocide in Darfur” signs, or similar such provocations from “troublemakers.” And given Beijing’s paranoia, it’s hardly surprising that this year’s opening and closing ceremonies are going to have some of the tightest security of any event, ever.

Each ticket for the ceremonies will have a microchip embedded with the user’s photograph, passport details, addresses, emails, and telephone numbers. All event tickets also have microchips to prevent counterfeiting, but only the ceremony tickets will contain the personal data. Some have raised fears of data theft, and others question whether activists known to the Chinese authorities could even attempt to attend, since many of them are being detained or at least closely watched ahead of the games. Perhaps the biggest concern is that the tickets will be too effective: If you are attending the ceremonies with a few friends or family members and your tickets get switched among you, expect big delays at the gates.

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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