The White House is considering a ban on cell phones for employees and visitors. The ban is designed to minimize cyber threats within the White House. Officials from the Trump administration have been busy speaking to the media regarding the ban.
One key figure who has already weighed in on this issue is the chief of staff John Kelly. Kelly’s smartphone was reportedly hacked by foreign operatives recently. The White House chief of staff told reporters that he had noticed his phone behaving strangely before handing it over to the White House tech support team for assessment. The team found that the phone had been breached externally.
The White House has already banned mobile phones in the West Wing. However, Yahoo News has reported that the ban is just a proposal. It’s not yet clear whether it will be imposed or not. Nonetheless, if it goes through, it means that all White House staffers will no longer be allowed to carry cell phones on the premises.
The staffers will have to use White House-issued devices to communicate. However, there would be one challenge with these devices. They can’t send text messages. This would make it very difficult for staffers to communicate with their family and friends outside the building.
The Trump administration is looking at the brighter side of this. Most White House media leaks have often come through private cell phones. On many occasions, president Trump has slammed the leaks, promising tough action on anyone caught in the act.
Banning personal smartphones and limiting phone usage to White House-issued devices could play a crucial role in stopping the leaks. Besides, all voice calls made through the White House-issued phones will be recorded as part of standard procedure.
If the ban is imposed, the question is how staffers will get in touch with people outside the White House. The White House-issued devices cannot be a solution for this. Opponents of this proposed ban have called on the White House security team to find other solutions that allow them to bring in their smartphones without affecting security. They feel that such a ban will significantly interfere with their personal privacy which will, in turn, make it very difficult for them to work freely.
Despite these seemingly valid points, it’s very likely that eventually, national security issues will take precedence over personal privacy. If there is enough evidence to suggest that bringing smartphones to the premises puts the security of the president in jeopardy, then the ban will surely be imposed. Those opposing the ban can only hope that the White House security team comes up with communication alternatives that don’t interfere with their privacy.
Cybersecurity has become a big issue on national security matters, and it’s not something that the White House will take lightly. We will know over the next few weeks whether the ban will be confirmed or not.