23:24 GMT19 June 2021
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    The spy mania has apparently reached a whole new level in Britain following a government scandal, when Defence Minister Williamson was fired for leaking the details of discussions of strategic importance to journalists.

    UK media outlets report that cabinet ministers have been issued special containers in order to keep their mobile devices safe from foreign eavesdroppers.

    "They are big white boxes with silver handles, almost like a massive piggy bank. They're thought to even be radiation-proof," an anonymous source told UK tabloid The Sun, adding that UK officials are to place their phones in the box if they have a confidential discussion at a minister's home.

    The source was also quoted as saying that Chinese hackers can potentially spread malware to a minster's phone via Bluetooth if they "sat next to them on a bus".

    This mirrors a separate story in the Daily Telegraph, which stated that some ministers were provided with "huge metal boxes" in which to shield their mobile phones at home from foreign eavesdroppers.

    "The fear is that (for example) a Chinese agent might hack into a Cabinet member's phone and use its microphone to eavesdrop on conversations. Even if the microphone is disabled, ministers are advised, their phone can be made to pick up voice vibrations while lying on a table. Ministers are regularly told to leave phones outside meeting rooms, just in case they have been hacked," wrote the Telegraph's columnist Fraser Nelson.

    The fears of sensitive information leaks have grown amid the recent Huawei 5G row, which resulted in the sacking of a top-level official.

    Gavin Williamson was fired on Wednesday as defence secretary after Theresa May said a leak inquiry found "compelling evidence" that he had divulged details of a behind-closed-doors meeting of the National Security Council.

    The accusations referred to a recent report in the Telegraph, which said that the government agreed to allow Chinese telecom equipment supplier Huawei to take part in building Britain's 5G mobile phone networks.

    Williamson admitted to speaking to a Telegraph reporter on the phone on the day of the leak, but insisted that this conversation had nothing to do with confidential information. In a letter to Theresa May, he refused to accept his firing (because that would mean admitting his guilt), and later "swore on his children's lives" that he was not the person behind the leak.


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    5G network, mobile phone, spy, eavesdropping, Huawei, Gavin Williamson, China, United Kingdom
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