Research In Motion Ltd (BBRY), Apple Inc. (AAPL): Is China Listening?

Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) – er, BlackBerry – and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) are apparently not appreciated much by President Obama’s new chief of staff, Denis McDonough.  But that may not necessarily be a comment on the quality of the smartphones – it could be something far more suspicious and nefarious. At least if you are one who knows or believes that the Chinese government is listening in on our conversations over mobile devices.

Now, many people know that phone calls made over mobile devices can be intercepted through the airwaves, so the idea that China may be tapping into a call from a Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) BlackBerry or an Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone may not be surprising … but, yes, it could be unnerving.

Especially if you have things to hide – like government secrets, or where the president keeps his basketball shoes in his Oval Office desk.

BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY)But is this just paranoia, or is it a matter of efficiency when the White House chief of staff bans  phones from staff meetings?

How much China can listen in on phone conversations isn’t exactly known – but we certainly have been able to trace several government computer-network hacking attacks on the Chinese government in the past several months.

However, in a couple of recent reports about McDonough, he supposedly likes to run a tight ship, and apparently that includes keeping the potential distraction of cell phones like the BlackBerry Z10 or the Apple iPhone 5 out of staff meetings. Staffers are asked to place their Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) phones in a cabinet outside  the conference room as they enter a meeting.

What we find interesting to note here is that Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) smartphones are specifically mentioned.

While it is known that those are the two brands of smartphones that the federal government has been using for official business, are there no staffers who use Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android-based phones? Are Android phones allowed in meetings? What about any phones running Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone? Are those allowed in these same  meetings?

While it certainly could be for efficiency, could it also be that Mr. McDonough has a certain fear about Chinese phone-tapping? Or is that fear justified, since he came to the White House from the National Security Council, which gets regular intelligence briefings that include cybersecurity threats?

Could he know much more about China’s efforts than any of us know? What are your thoughts? Are we just blowing this out of proportion, or is there something to the idea that China knows how to get into government conversations and is listening in? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

DISCLOSURE: I own no positions in any stock mentioned.

Related: Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY)