A new policy from Chief of Staff John Kelly aims to strictly crackdown on West Wing use of personal cell phones. While initially the policy was believed to apply primarily to personal smartphones, ABC News today reports that it is actually far broader and will ban use of anything with WiFi, Bluetooth, radio, or cellular capabilities…
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The internal memo distributed by Kelly and obtained by ABC News specifically outlines the crackdown on personal devices. The memo says that personal devices with any sort of connectivity are banned within the premises of the West Wing.
In addition to the obvious targets like iPhones and iPads, the White House is taking aim at smartwatches and fitness trackers as well, which often include WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. The Apple Watch is specifically a target thanks to its support for WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular connectivity.
The policy goes further than originally expected and is not just limited to personal cell phones. It also includes laptops, smartwatches and “devices with WiFi, Bluetooth, radio, or cellular capabilities” and “any portable device that emits an electric signal and was not issued by the White House Communications Agency,” according to the memo.
A “senior White House official” tells ABC News that the ban on all personal smart devices is an attempt by the Trump administration to stop leaks and increase employee productivity. “It’s designed to prevent leaks and ensure the productivity of the people who work here,” the official said.
The memo cites broader security concerns, saying the ban is to protect White House information technology infrastructure:
“[The ban will] protect White House information technology infrastructure from compromise and sensitive or classified information from unauthorized access or dissemination.”
Press secretary Sara Sanders also refuted the idea that the crackdown on personal devices is to reduce internal leaks, calling such suggestion a ridiculous characterization:
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said last week that the new ban has nothing to do with leaks to the press or the revelations in Michael Wolff’s book “Fire & Fury.”
“Absolutely not. That’s a ridiculous characterization. This is about the security and the integrity of the technology systems here at the White House,” Sanders said.
As for the geographical scope of the ban, the memo says the “West Wing” in this case refers to “the facility generally located between the President’s Executive Residence and West Executive Drive.” This excludes “the press briefing room, any White House Press Corps work spaces, or any outdoor common area, such as the Rose Garden or the North Lawn media positions.”