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Mobile devices banned from cabinet meetings due to spy fears

The UK government has reportedly banned iPads and other mobile devices from cabinet meetings due to concerns that foreign powers might hack them and use them as surveillance devices.

Following a presentation last week by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and Mike Bracken, head of the Government Digital Service, the No. 10 security team moved in to remove all the iPads from the room, according to a report in the Mail on Sunday.

Security services apparently fear that China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan are able to bug mobile devices using a Trojan computer virus that turns them into microphones and transmitters without the owner's knowledge.

In response to such fears, ministers have been told to use soundproofed lead-lined boxes in which to store their devices when discussing confidential matters.

The latest fears of international espionage follow accusations last week that the American National Security Agency (NSA) carried out mass surveillance in Spain and France, as well as monitoring the phones of 35 heads of state.

Russia has also recently been accused of spying, reportedly handing out USB sticks to delegates at a recent G20 summit that contained a virus allowing Russian intelligence agencies to hack into government computers.

Last week Foreign Secretary William Hague revealed that he believed his mobile phone had been modified by GCHQ.

"I think my phone has been modified by GCHQ enough that it'd be difficult," he said. "But I'm sure the Chinese have had a good go."