United Kingdom

The phones WERE jammed at the G7: White House it knew about 'more secure format'

The White House has acknowledged that the there were indeed special electronic security precautions at the G7 summit where leaders of the world's richest nations huddled about how to stem ransomware attacks and called out China for its market practices.

Members of the media who covered the event had been asking about disruption in cell and Internet service when President Biden and other world leaders gathered in Cornwall, England. 

Reporters at the event noted that even some government aides weren't able to connect near the summit meeting rooms, and pressed the White House to explain.   

At first, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan blamed the problem on lousy cell service in Cornwall along the southern coast. 

WIFI PROBLEMS: National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan blamed the problem on lousy cell service in Cornwall for cell and Internet problems at the G7. The White House later said following questions about it that some summit meetings were 'conducted in a more secure format'

'Like many beautiful coastal spots in America, Cornwall has spotty cell service, which I experienced considerably,' he told reporters as Biden flew out of the country to join NATO meetings in Brussels.

'I wasn't in that session, so I can't say for sure,' he said of one meeting where phone problems occurred. When told it seemed like phones were being jammed, he responded: 'I don't think this is correct.' But he said he would look into it and that he wasn't 'trying to hide the ball here.'

Late Sunday, the White House sent out confirmation that the initial suspicions were correct.   

'We were told that some of the G7 Summit sessions were going to be conducted in a more secure format. As the host country, the United Kingdom would oversee the communications networks at the Summit,' said a White House official.

The nations have reasons to take precautions: U.S. intelligence has repeatedly called out China for hacking and intellectual property theft. Leaders who gathered for meetings sought to develop a unified posture on ransomware hacking after activities the U.S. believes originated from Russia. 

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? Media members and aides reported having problems with cell and Internet service when near meetings between G7 leaders

G7 leaders spoke about contending with Russian President Vladimir Putin and dealing with ransomware hackers believed to be harbored in Russia

The G7 leaders called for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, and called out China for its labor and economic practices

DON'T HACK ME: There was an international incident in 2013 when it was revealed the U.S. National Security Agency had German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone number in its database

HEAVY SECURITY: The U.S. already takes multiple measures to protect the president, including flying in special vehicles and aircraft

Biden is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, who the U.S. assesses had knowledge of 2016 election hacking, this week.

Russia and China aren't the only nations with sophisticated monitoring abilities. There was an international incident in 2013 when it was revealed the U.S. National Security Agency had German Chancellor Angela Merkel's personal phone number in its database. Merkel took part in the G7 summit meetings.

And during the Trump administration, it was revealed that the U.S. intercepted phone communications between Russia's former ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kilyak, who was being monitored, and former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn. 

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