Boris Johnson's Phone Number Leaks: Turns Out He Uses End-To-End Encryption... While Trying To Ban It For Everyone Else

from the good-for-the-goose,-but-fuck-you dept

Well, look at that. The gossip newsletter Popbitch revealed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's personal phone number (in a somewhat hilarious way). The latest edition included this up at the top:

0ver the last few weeks, Boris Johnson has taken a lot of flak for refusing to change his personal mobile number. Critics say it’s highly irresponsible that any 7om, Dick or Harry could just freely add the PM on WhatsApp and strike up a chat.

8ut then the examples they give in those stories are always extremely wealthy or powerful people. Of course Sir James Dyson moves in circles where the 3M’s number is common knowledge. Obviously Mohammed bin Salman is going to have swapped digits.

It’s not as though the Prime Minister’s personal phone number could just be floating out there on the internet, is it? It would be absolutely insane if it was tacked on to the bottom of an old press release that he dished out freely while MP for Henley, and Shadow Minister for Higher Education.

A press releases which – feasibly – could still exist online. And which any old email newsletter could start p1ssing about with…

You might notice what appear to be typos there, where letters are turned into numbers. Well, there are a few more in the article as well, and... it turns out they are his phone number, which apparently has been easily available on the internet for 15 years, since it was once included in a press release that was sent out when Johnson was an opposition MP. And, as Popbitch noted, he's apparently chosen not to change it.

That, alone, is not really that interesting for a Techdirt audience -- though it does raise at least some concerns about his security practices on that particular phone. But what's much, much more interesting is that a phone number is also your identifier for end-to-end encrypted chat messaging apps including both Signal and WhatsApp. And the brilliant Alec Muffett entered the number into both apps... and found that Boris Johnson appears to be a user of both.

In case you don't know, if you put in the phone number of someone you know, it will tell you if they're on Signal or WhatsApp, and Boris quite clearly was -- though after the press got ahold of this he finally changed his number, despite keeping it for so many years. And thus, as seen in the image both above and below, we know that Boris Johnson has at least set up accounts on both of the major end-to-end encrypted messaging platforms:

Alec checked a few other services that use phone numbers as an identifier, and found no evidence of Johnson on Telegram or SnapChat. However, his use of Signal and WhatsApp is especially interesting, given that his government is working overtime to ban encryption for consumers. There was reporting just a few weeks ago that a bunch of Ministers were using both Signal and WhatsApp while still being a part of the government trying to ban encryption, but having Boris Johnson being among them really takes this all to a whole new level.

It truly shows how hypocritical they are, recognizing the value of such private messaging in their own lives, while trying to block others from using it.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: boris johnson, encryption, for the children, going dark, hypocrite, phone number, uk
Companies: signal, whatsapp

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2021 @ 10:21am

    no surprise here! it's no different to every other government! they'ree all doing the same thing, not to 'think of the children' or anyone else, only themselves and their rich and powerful friends while putting all of the ordinary people, everywhere, under the spotlight and, inevetibly, under the cosh! all politicians and government representatives wanna remain annonymous and keep all teir dealings secret but need to know who is looking into what they're doing!

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.