Revelations about secret surveillance capabilities of the NSA and GCHQ are frightening, even for the governments those organizations serve. So, in response to worries that tablets could be hacked and be used as spy devices, the U.K. has banned the Apple iPad from all future Cabinet meetings.
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude used an iPad in a presentation to explain how Apple’s line of tablets could save the British economy close to £2 billion ($3.19 billion) a year within the next four years. Ministers were reportedly ordered to not touch the iPads, and the tablets were removed from the room after the presentation.
The fear is that governments around the world have developed malware that can remotely activate the microphones on the iPad and transmit a recording of the confidential meetings. The Telegraph reported that ministers have also been issued soundproofed boxes lined with lead to secure their mobile devices when having sensitive conversations.
The concerns come after NSA analyst-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA monitored mobile phones belonging to 35 world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. A report by the Los Angeles Times alleged that Russia gave visiting world leaders USB drives with spyware as a gift after the G-20 summit near St. Petersburg, though Russia has denied these claims.
It appears that knowledge of secret digital spy programs around the world have ushered in a new era of paranoia that not even top-ranking government officials are immune to.