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UK bans ministers from wearing the Apple Watch to cabinet meetings

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According to a series of reports stemming from The Telegraph, ministers in the U.K. cabinet have been banned from wearing apple watches to meetings. This appears to have been taken as a precautionary measure amidst the growing fears being inspired by Russian hackers. Reportedly, the government is afraid that the watch’s microphone could be used as a listening device by Russian spies.

The fears of the government are not unfounded or inspired from paranoia either. While such a measure may have been looked upon as somewhat extreme just a few months ago, the recent hack which involved emails from the United States’ Democratic National Committee, is bound to make everyone wary. I mean if it can happen with them, it can happen with us. That is probably along the lines of what everyone is thinking at present.

U.K. is not unique in banning the apple watches. The Australian government also does not allow its ministers to wear them to meetings. However, the British cabinet was allowed to flaunt their smart watches under the David Cameron’s administration. But, Prime Minister Theresa May obviously has other ideas.

Under the new rules, ministers are strictly prohibited from carrying any gadgets such as smart watches and mobile phones to the cabinet meetings. This new rule has been made in the light of the fact that both the types of gadgets share many of the same features and as such, are vulnerable to hackers — Russian or otherwise.

Commenting on the topic, an advisor to the Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said,

In a world in which it is necessary for government to have conversations that truly have no electronics in the room, there are going to be more and more items that will have to be locked away in cabinets.

Meanwhile, the UK government avoided the topic, with a spokesperson merely saying that,

We don’t routinely provide details on Cabinet procedures. 

Meanwhile, the question of whether hackers can actually break into an Apple device is purely academic. Apple’s security systems are no pushover and even US intelligence agencies had to call in external experts to break into San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. However, they are also not infallible, as has been shown time and again. In face of all these variables, perhaps banning these smartwatches was for the best.

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