U.K. Prime minister Theresa May has banned ministers from wearing Apple Watches during Cabinet meetings, due to fears that they could be hacked by Russian spies for use as listening devices, a new report claims.
Under the leadership of former prime minister David Cameron, several members of the cabinet wore Apple Watches, including former Justice Secretary Michael Gove. Mobile phones have also been banned for the same reason.
May’s decision comes days after she took what many are considering a veiled shot at Apple during a speech at the Tory party conference, in which she criticized a “household name” that is refusing to work with officials to fight terrorism, as well as “an international company that treats tax laws as optional extras.”
Previously, May was behind the U.K.’s draft Investigatory Powers Bill, a.k.a. the “snooper’s charter,” which set out a suggestion that companies could be forced to create backdoors in encrypted services like iMessage. Apple has spoken out against this draft law by saying it would “hurt law-abiding citizens.”
Despite its renewed focus on privacy and security, Apple is no stranger to having politicians barred from using its devices. President Barack Obama has previously acknowledged that he was stuck using a BlackBerry because of concerns that his iPhone might be compromised.
The subject of Russian hackers has been in the news a lot lately, with the obtaining of confidential emails from the Democratic National Congress during the U.S. election, as well as medical files for top international athletes.