In a move that the White House says is for security, John Kelly is considering banning personal cell phones.
On one hand, you can’t blame them. After all, Kelly’s own personal cell phone was hacked for six months before they figured it out.
On a self serving theme, it is possible that it might cut down on leaks, but I doubt that would really make much of a difference. If they are going to talk to the press, they will do it off the White House grounds.
From the staff’s perspective, they work somewhat insane hours and being cut off from their families for that long would be, at least for me, a reason to find a different job. Given the pressures of the job, it is probably hard to find good people anyway and if you add another barrier, it just makes finding people harder.
If a staffer uses a government issued phone to talk to their family and friends, the question comes up about open records and how much would be exposed. Also, government issued phones can’t do text messages and most families live on those. I assume you could not install snap chat or telegram or signal on a government phone. It just seems like a mess.
Government phones can’t access GMail; I am sure no White House staffers use that.
In addition, government officials for years have gotten into trouble for using personal phones and personal emails for government business (think Hillary Clinton or Collin Powell, for example), so banning personal phones helps fix that problem, MAYBE. On the other hand, they also get in trouble for using government phones and emails for personal business.
Now, if this rule goes through, you just made things even harder. If someone told you that you couldn’t access your personal phone, text messages, social media or personal email for say, 12-18 hours a day, would you take the job? I suspect a lot of people would not.
It is fair to assume that foreign powers would love to tap into govies’ phones, so there is no easy answer.
Stay tuned for more details.
Information for this post came from Bloomberg.