On the UK Parliament's website, the official ways to contact Prime Minister Boris Johnson are listed. But for the past 15 years, his personal cellphone number has also been openly accessible, thanks to a long-ago press release that has stayed up on the internet, reports the BBC. The celebrity gossip newsletter Popbitch first noted the prime minister's digits remained online after originally being printed in 2006 in a think tank release about his then-role as a shadow higher-education official. Johnson had encouraged reporters to use the number to get in touch with him for further comments. Critics are now saying his number being so accessible could pose a number of risks, including for national security. Lobbyists could also use it to reach out to Johnson, as could potential blackmailers, one Labour MP notes. What's even more baffling to some, however, is that Johnson never bothered to change the number.
It should've been an "elementary security precaution" for him to dump it once he became prime minister, former national security adviser Peter Ricketts tells the BBC, which notes that when someone becomes prime minister, they're allowed to hang onto their personal devices, despite being issued a government phone. The Independent reports that Simon Case, the head of the UK's Civil Service department, had tried to persuade Johnson to get a new number, but that the prime minister "is understood to have ignored the advice." Some officials, however, aren't concerned: Finance chief Rishi Sunak says that, to his knowledge, "all security protocols have been followed." ABC News notes that, as of Friday, the number seems to be out of commission, with callers hearing a message that it's been "switched off," and that they should send a text or try to call back later. Downing Street hasn't officially given word that Johnson will retire it for good. (Read more Boris Johnson stories.)