Olympic agenda: in Beijing, Internet access (or censorship) is variable
Before Team Star Tribune went to China, we knew we were going to face technological hurdles. For example, we were told that we would only have access to unlimited internet service at certain locations. And by unrestricted, I mean uncensored by the Chinese government.
In the main press center, we can google anything we want. The same is true of locations (or so we mean; we will find out when the events begin.) In our hotel rooms, this is not the case. And it’s a disconcerting feeling.
The 12and floor of the Crowne Plaza Beijing Sun Palace, I can’t use Twitter. It tells me “Tweets can’t load right now”, although internet connections and cellular networks are very strong. I can’t read the New York Times. I had mixed results with the Star Tribune website – I was able to access a story about the school shooting in Richfield on Tuesday, but not stories about the Olympics.
Beijing officials have promised some sort of self-contained zone in the lobbies of every hotel housing the media. Here at the Sun Palace, there are four chairs lined up against a wall. It’s an unfettered internet paradise in the same vein as the 2008 Beijing Summer Games “protest zone”, which was a fenced off area miles from any Olympic venue.
I’m trying it right now, and it works. Four chairs, no censorship. At least for today.