iPad? Shoo! This UK government meeting will brook no spying

Can anyone powerful have a private meeting anymore? The British government, itself this week implicated in spying accusations, is taking extra precautions.

Nothing is safe, it seems. James Martin/CNET

We're now agreed that everyone is spying on everyone else, aren't we?

If technology makes it possible, then someone is going to do it. For good or evil, you understand.

So the British government has begun to take precautions against other governments spying on its cabinet meetings.

The Telegraph reports that the first target of this new cautious approach is the iPad.

The Mail on Sunday initially revealed that at a cabinet meeting last week, there were many iPads present, there to assist in a presentation by, of all institutions, the Government Digital Service.

After the presentation (which was about cost savings), security staff apparently stole in and removed the iPads. They specifically feared that foreign powers know how to turn them -- and other mobile devices -- into portable bugs.

We can't have foreign governments learning about how to save money on digital services, can we?

The Telegraph names China, Pakistan, Russia and Iran as governments that are in possession of Trojan viruses that can turn iPads into microphones and even transmitters.

Somehow, I feel that these countries might not be the only ones who have such technology. A hardened spy would surely muse whether the British government might itself be au fait with it, which might perhaps be behind its anti-iPad initiative.

Interestingly, the Guardian's latest revelations this week offered that Britain's own GCHQ officers had joined forces with their counterparts in Germany, France, Sweden and Spain to jointly monitor well, who knows what -- and, indeed, how?

It would be hard to imagine that the ability to bug iPads and other such contraptions remotely wasn't at least discussed, if not actually experimented with.

Britain is taking other steps to prevent foreign snoops from listening in remotely. Ministers have been given lead-lined boxes in which they must place their cell phones and other devices during important conversations.

It all seems quaintly old-fashioned. Technology has wrought a new world in which privacy is being secured with methods from a distant time.

Perhaps one day, we'll revert to important decisions being made on a handshake in a secure room, with the only record a paper one.

Things were so much more interesting in those days.

 

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