White House mulling over ban on use of personal cellphones

Josh Miller  CNET

Josh Miller CNET

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.

The White House is considering banning employees from using personal mobile phones at work, according to a Bloomberg report Monday.

The White House already takes considerable precautions with wireless devices, including a requirement for officials to leave phones in cupboards outside of meeting rooms where sensitive or classified information is discussed.

Back in August, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Trump administration has dealt with three times as many leaks as the prior administration, prompting White House officials to visit the issue.

Some staffers worry a ban could result in a series of disruptive unintended consequences. If they go through with it, the ban would apply to all staff in the president's executive office. In addition, government record keeping rules require that records of personal calls received and made over a government issued phone be filed away and kept available for eventual release. Other staff are concerned that they could be accused of wasting government resources if they use White House-issued phones to place personal calls. Trump raised security concerns in May when he handed out his personal number to world leaders in Mexico, Canada and France, breaking diplomatic protocol, the Associated Press reported. Instead, they were assigned "burner" phones in case they became compromised by a cyberattack.

The move is reportedly driven not because of President Donald Trump's concerns of administration officials leaking sensitive information to the press, but because of cybersecurity concerns. Staffers then started to use encrypted messaging apps.

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