Most of the scrutiny of White House communications concerns the President’s personal cell phone. His tweets have angered many on both sides of the aisle. Yet the White House is more concerned about plugging leaks, and so is considering an all out ban on personal cell phones.
Employees will still be allowed to use their phones, but not while they are at work. The move is “raising concerns among some staffers, including that they’ll be cut off from family and friends,” Bloomberg reports.
One of Bloomberg’s sources claim that the move has little to do with staff leaks to media sources.
“The proposed ban is instead driven by cybersecurity concerns, the officials said. One official said that there are too many devices connected to the campus wireless network and that personal phones aren’t as secure as those issued by the federal government. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly — whose personal phone was found to be compromised by hackers earlier this year — is leading the push for a ban, another official said.”
The irony here is that the news of the potential ban, which has little to do with leaks, is being leaked to the media.
“The White House already takes precautions with personal wireless devices, including by requiring officials to leave phones in cubbies outside of meeting rooms where sensitive or classified information is discussed,” Bloomberg writes.
The ban would apply to all staff. The move might preclude some personal communication, but employees could still use official channels of communication, which, arguably, have stricter security protocols.
“Mobile devices issued by the White House aren’t able to send text messages, creating a hardship for staff who say texting is often the easiest way for their families to reach them in the middle of a busy day of meetings,” Bloomberg adds.
Others voiced concern that personal communications might be construed as a waste of resources if conducted through official channels.
The White House already blocks specific communications websites associated with Google. The phone ban might further limit employees’ access to email, too, if this ban goes through.
Another concern is disclosure. All official communication channels are logged, recorded, and could eventually be made public.