Beset by an amazing degree of technical incompetence and enough leaks to sink Atlantis, President Donald Trump’s administration is now mulling a White House-wide ban on the use of personal cell phones, Bloomberg reported.
According to the Bloomberg report, some anonymous administration officials described the ban as primarily motivated by “cybersecurity concerns,” since the personal devices are not under the control of the White House and likely introduce vulnerabilities to the facility’s wireless network. For example, in October, reports indicated that the administration only discovered that Chief of Staff John Kelly’s personal cellular device had been breached for months after he brought it to tech support, complaining of malfunctions. During a recent trip to China, all White House staff were issued “burner” devices that would be wiped when they returned. Given the number of ways a compromised device could be used to spy on the president, a personal cell phone ban might be a crude solution, but a workable one.
But it’s hard not to imagine that this isn’t in part a belated, desperate attempt to at least mitigate the number of White House employees who are passing on unflattering information and anecdotes about the administration’s workings to the media. Early this year, infuriated by numerous leaks, former press secretary Sean Spicer ordered roughly a dozen staffers to present their personal phones for examination to White House lawyers. They then immediately leaked news of the shake-down. The pace of subsequent leaks has apparently not slowed down, despite Kelly’s attempts to impose military-style discipline on the administration.
Also, this whole situation can’t have been made any easier by Trump’s decision to fire the White House’s chief information security officer, a Barack Obama appointee.
Some staff told Bloomberg the devices issued by the White House aren’t capable of sending text messages, and they’re wary records of any personal calls could be made public via record-keeping rules, meaning they could be “cut off from family and friends.” So seems like things are definitely going super well over there. Tremendously, even.