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Should WiFi hotspots be banned from Olympic venues?

Categories: Science & Technology

 An image of an alleged member of the "WiFi police" at the London Games. (@SadaoTurner/Twitter) Organizers at the 2012 London Games are facing criticism because of attempts to curb the use of portable WiFi hotspots and 3G hubs at Olympic venues.

Blogger Sadao Turner posted an image of an alleged member of the "WiFi police" carrying a portable directional antenna on Wednesday. It has since spread on Twitter, tech blogs and news sites.

The organizing committee lists "personal/private wireless access points and 3G hubs" on its list of items prohibited at Olympic venues -- alongside other hazards such as firearms, drugs and explosives.

The London Olympics have been billed as the first "social media games," but after heavy tweeting and texting from the sidelines of the July 28 men's cycling race overloaded a wireless network, the International Olympic Committee suggested spectators tweet "urgent updates," only to be ridiculed in the blogosphere.

The mass of wireless traffic interfered with the GPS feeds of real-time racing information that the Olympic Broadcasting Service provides to television broadcasters covering the event.

Some saw the attempts to set rules for social media use at the Games as misguided, and part of the IOC's broader attempt to control the Olympic brand. As early as April, some tech websites criticized the committee's rules that prevented ticket holders from sharing photos and videos from Olympic events and venues.

"This means no Instagrams, no Tweetpics, no Facebooking ("OMG OLYMPICS!!"), and no nothing. In short, you shouldn't tell anyone you went to the Olympics," wrote TechCrunch's John Biggs.

Should personal WiFi and 3G hotspots be banned from Olympic venues? Is the overcrowding of wireless signals a valid concern, or are the WiFi police an invasive element of the brand monitoring at the Games? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' replies.)

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