As London ramps up for the 2012 Olympics, a dystopian regime of policing and censorship on behalf of the games' sponsors is coming online. A special squad of "brand police" will have the power to force pubs to take down signs advertising "watch the games on our TV," to sticker over the brand-names of products at games venues where those products were made by companies other than the games' sponsors, to send takedown notices to YouTube and Facebook if attendees at the games have the audacity to post their personal images for their friends to see, and more. What's more, these rules are not merely civil laws, but criminal ones, so violating the sanctity of an Olympic sponsor could end up with prison time for Londoners.
Esther Addley documents the extent of London's corporatism for The Guardian:
"It is certainly very tough legislation," says Paul Jordan, a partner and marketing specialist at law firm Bristows, which is advising both official sponsors and non-sponsoring businesses on the new laws. "Every major brand in the world would give their eye teeth to have [a piece of legislation] like this. One can imagine something like a Google or a Microsoft would be delighted to have some very special recognition of their brand in the way that clearly the IOC has."
As well as introducing an additional layer of protection around the word "Olympics", the five-rings symbol and the Games' mottoes, the major change of the legislation is to outlaw unauthorised "association". This bars non-sponsors from employing images or wording that might suggest too close a link with the Games. Expressions likely to be considered a breach of the rules would include any two of the following list: "Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012, Twenty-Twelve".
Using one of those words with London, medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver or bronze is another likely breach. The two-word rule is not fixed, however: an event called the "Great Exhibition 2012" was threatened with legal action last year under the Act over its use of "2012" (Locog later withdrew its objection).
The London Olympic bid insisted that these restrictions were necessary to get the sponsors, and of course, they were bidding against other cities who were also making promises to police their residents' free speech and personal expression. Each games' sponsor doubles down on the previous games' restrictions and surveillance, which suggests that by 2020, the winning bid will include a promise to imprison all non-attendees for the duration of the games, and permanently tattoo sponsors' logos on the faces and chests of all ticket-buyers.