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White House bans personal cellphone usage in the West Wing

White House chief of staff John Kelly has ordered that guests and staffers will no longer be allowed to use personal cellphones in the West Wing. The White House insists that the policy is being implemented solely for cybersecurity reasons. (Saul Loeb/Getty Images)

A day after the release of explosive segments from Michael Wolff's forthcoming book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," the White House announced a new policy: no more personal cellphone use for staffers or guests in the West Wing.

In spite of the eyebrow-raising timing of the decision, the White House insists that the policy is being implemented solely for cybersecurity reasons and is not intended to stop unauthorized leaks.

The White House has publicly mused about adopting this policy since November, for the stated reason that it is necessary to ensure cybersecurity in the White House. A White House official told Bloomberg News that there were "too many devices connected to the campus wireless network and that personal phones aren’t as secure as those issued by the federal government."

As Bloomberg also noted, the White House's claim that the ban was not an attempt to prevent leaks is bolstered by the fact that White House chief of staff John Kelly's personal cellphone was compromised by hackers earlier this year.

According to NBC News, in spite of the timing of the announcement, the White House denies that the ban is being implemented in order to prevent further leaks. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained that the reason for the decision was related to cybersecurity: "The security and integrity of the technology systems at the White House is a top priority for the Trump administration."

Some White House aides complained to Bloomberg News that the new policy meant they would not be able to keep in touch with family while they were at work, since they are not permitted to use government-issued cellphones for personal business and they do not have texting capability.

The ban was ultimately instituted by Kelly, who has been pushing for it since his own cellphone was compromised.

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