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The Apple Watch is a great productivity tool, simplifying tasks and making life easier for busy people all around the world. That is, unless you’re a British Cabinet minister. According to The Telegraph, Cabinet ministers have been barred from wearing smartwatches, including the Apple Watch, during Cabinet meetings. Recently-instated British Prime Minister Theresa May placed a ban on the devices amid growing concerns of hackers gaining classified information. May also expressed concerns that the Watches could be used by outside hackers as “listening devices.”
Former Prime Minister David Cameron allegedly allowed smartwatches to be worn during meetings, although mobile phones were previously barred for similar concerns. Michael Gove, the Government Chief Whip, famously disrupted a cabinet meeting in January of 2015 when he mistakenly played a Beyoncé song after pressing the wrong button on his Pebble Smartwatch. According to The Telegraph, Gove was “given a sharp dressing down by David Cameron” after fumbling “for quite a while” to quiet the song.
When asked about the ban, one source replied to The Telegraph simply stating, “the Russians are trying to hack everything.” Concerns about data security have been on the rise since a collection of some 19,000 Democratic National Committee emails were obtained by hackers and published by WikiLeaks this past July. The emails, which officials stated were likely obtained by Russian intelligence services, contained an abundance of controversial content, leading to the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as well as DNC CEO Amy Dacey, CFO Brad Marshall, and Communications Director Luis Miranda.
The UK isn’t the first nation to ban smartwatches from high-level government meetings. Growing concerns about cyber security recently caused Australia to enforce a similar ban during their cabinet meetings. A spokesperson for Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos told The Express Tribune that “no electronic transmitting devices, including Apple Watches, [are] allowed in the cabinet room.” According to Australian special adviser on cyber security Alastair MacGibbon, “it is necessary for the government to have conversations that truly have no electronics in the room,” adding that “there are going to be more and more items that will have to be locked away in cabinets.”