Politicians in the UK have apparently been banned from wearing the Apple watch at cabinet meetings due to fears that the mobile device could be hacked. According to reports, the government is worried that the microphone in the device can be used to listen in on high level conversations on policy, especially by Russian hackers, who have been targeting politicians lately.
The paranoia by the British government is justified because of an announcement last week by the United States government blaming Russia for the he hack on the Democratic National Committee. According to a well-placed source, the Russians are trying to hack everything.
While the ban of Apple Watches might sound strange, it really isn’t unusual. Smartphones were already banned at cabinet meetings in the United Kingdom, so extending the ban to include Apple Watches isn’t that much of a stretch because they have the same electronics and are just as vulnerable to hacks.
In another report, it was announced that Australia has also banned the Apple Watch from cabinet meetings for security reasons. An advisor to the Australian Prime Minister told reporters that there has to be more attention paid to communications security as an increasing number of mobile devices, from glasses to running shoes, offered internet connectivity, which makes them susceptible to hackers.
The advisor said that we live in a world where it is necessary for government officials to private conversations with no electronics in the room, there will be more items that will be have to be locked away during cabinet meetings.
Visitors to Australian government agencies like the Australian Signals Directorate, which is the Defense Department’s cyber spy department, are asked to store all electronic devices in lockers before they are permitted to enter the building.
The reasoning behind the rule is to prevent people from using the electronics as listening devices and to stop them from inserting viruses into the building’s systems.
According to a British newspaper, politicians were allowed to wear smartwatches while David Cameron was the Prime Minister, but that practice came to an end when Cameron left and the new ban was put into place.
The paper also disclosed that former justice secretary Michael Gove once interrupted a cabinet meeting when he was chief whip by accidentally playing a Beyoncé song while checking his emails.
With the British and Australian governments banning smartwatches and other electronic devices from their cabinet meetings, expect to see more governments follow suit to avoid being embarrassed by hackers, who have been uploading sensitive information on the internet in an attempt to embarrass politicians.