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Don't use your own phone in Hong Kong, 2 accounting giants reportedly tell workers

photo collage of the buildings signs of Deloitte and KPMG
KPMG and Deloitte are two of the Big Four accounting firms.Getty Images
  • KPMG and Deloitte advised workers to use burner phones in Hong Kong, The Financial Times reported.

  • McKinsey consultants were also reportedly told to not use their personal phones in the region.

  • Some athletes at Beijing's Winter Olympics last year also used burners phones over security fears.

Two accounting giants have told staff not to use their phones on visits to Hong Kong, the Financial Times reported.

KPMG and Deloitte have instructed employees to use burner phones in the Chinese special administrative region, according to the newspaper.

A burner phone refers to a cheap device that can be discarded so a user's whereabouts or identity cannot readily be discovered.

Consultants at McKinsey have also taken different phones on trips to the city, the report says, citing unnamed sources.

It comes after former president Donald Trump issued an executive order in 2020 declaring that Hong Kong was "no longer sufficiently autonomous" to be differentiated from China. The same year, China introduced the national security law in Hong Kong, which has been used to clamp down on pro-democracy activism and reinforce Beijing's control over the city.

According to Reuters, shops selling electronic goods in Hong Kong saw a spike in demand for burner phones after China released its "health code" contact-tracing app during the pandemic, which sparked fears around privacy.

Last year athletes participating in the Winter Olympics were also advised to use burner phones, BBC News reported. "China's national data security laws are not designed with the Western values of privacy and liberty and do not offer the same level of protection," a report seen by the BBC said at the time.

Journalists also took burners to the Games, per The Washington Post. 

Representatives from KPMG, Deloitte and McKinsey didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider, made outside normal working hours.

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