Minister refuses to reveal smart speaker use on cyber security grounds
A Government minister responsible for the UK’s digital infrastructure has refused to say whether she owns a smart speaker on cyber security grounds.
Julia Lopez told MPs she did not believe it was wise for politicians to disclose details of the devices they have in their homes.
Her comments come amid recent warnings that China could potentially be using microchips embedded in internet-connected devices – from fridges to light bulbs – to spy on millions of Britons.
Ms Lopez, who was giving evidence to the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee which is investigating the possible threats from the growing use of connected technology, said any such device carried a level of risk.
Asked by the committee chairman Damian Green if she owned a smart speaker, she said she had never been told specifically that she should not have have one.
She added however: “I wouldn’t divulge my security arrangements for my personal life and I don’t think I should divulge exactly which devices I have in my home just as a cyber security measure.
“Is it ever wise for a politician to declare what is in their house, how they are secured, and so on? Probably not.”
Mr Green replied: “I would hate to be putting your security at risk. I’m not sure whether you have got a smart speaker or not does that.”
Ms Lopez, whose responsibilities include stripping out products made by the Chinese tech giant Huawei from the UK’s 5G network due to espionage concerns, said there was a constant dialogue within government as to what level of risk is acceptable.
“The whole thing is always being monitored,” she told the committee.
“Then it is a question at some point about whether you think there is a systemic risk posed by any one particular activity – which is the debate which happened in relation to Huawei – where there is a view that actually a certain percentage of the network is a risk we would find intolerable.
“I don’t think that piece of work is ever closed down. It is a constant discussion between different parts of government as to which of the risk levels cross a certain threshold and the point at which you take action.”