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No iPhone, only BlackBerry for British ministers

india Updated: Jun 17, 2010 17:10 IST

IANS
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Ministers in the David Cameron government cannot use Apple's iPhone as only BlackBerry smartphones have been sanctioned for official use.

In a written reply to Labour MP Tom Watson, Health Secretary Simon Burns said ministers in his department have been issued BlackBerrys and that this will be the case for all government departments.

He wrote in his reply on June 15: "The department does not issue Apple iPhones to staff as these are not approved for government use by the Communications-Electronics Security Group [CESG]."

The CESG is the information assurance arm of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which provides advice and assistance on the security of communications and electronic data in the UK.

Simon Ford, a director at secure communications provider NCP Engineering, said that though iPhone had evolved into a popular choice for businesses, the question of security should remain paramount when it comes to ministers.

"We have to remember that the iPhone was initially developed for consumers but has since evolved into a business phone rivalling the BlackBerry, which critics claim has the upper hand in its encryption technology," he said.

BlackBerrys are also the device of choice across a range of public sector organisations, including police, fire and ambulance trusts and city councils. However, a major private sector organisation -- StandardChartered -- has turned its back on the BlackBerry. Standard Chartered has announced this May that it will offer its users the option of an iPhone instead of the device, according to online technology news provider V3.