Opinion: The First Techie Obama gets to keep his BlackBerry


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He protested when the Secret Service told him he couldn’t keep his BlackBerry. Barack Obama, a man of his times, usually kept his smart phone fastened to his belt, his thumbs at the ready.

There was the problem of e-mail security, the ultimate hacker lure. And there was the Presidential Records Act, which could put everything on his BlackBerry in the public record.


But Obama, perhaps wary of the presidential bubble that can keep officials isolated from the flow of real-life concerns, insisted. As he told CNN:

I think we’re going to be able to hang on to one of these. I want to be able to have voices, other than the people who are immediately working for me, be able to reach out and ... send me a message about what’s happening in America.

Now it looks like Obama will be allowed to keep something like a BlackBerry but the device, according to the Atlantic, will be ‘heavily encrypted’ to protect his privacy.

The BlackBerry crisis was not the only technology issue facing the Obama White House in its first week.

On their first day in office, Obama staffers were shocked to find 6-year-old versions of Microsoft software, very few laptops and a mass of government regulations preventing them from using outside e-mail accounts. For the most tech-savvy team in presidential history, accustomed to working on Apple iBooks and texting the world, it was a shock.

As Obama spokesman Bill Burnton told the Washington Post, ‘It’s kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari.’


-- Johanna Neuman

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