"The president has a BlackBerry," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said last week.
President Barack Obama, a self-confessed Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerry addict, had feared that he might have to kick the BlackBerry habit following his inauguration.
Obama was often observed interacting with his smart phone during the presidential campaign. However, like previous new presidents entering the technophobic Oval Office, Obama faced a whole new communications landscape following his inauguration—and that landscape was bereft of the BlackBerry. In particular, Secret Service have been suspicious of email: Foreign entities might hack it, or a careless touch of the Send key might send sensitive information into the public domain. Another fear is that mobile devices such as the BlackBerry, which contain built-in GPS technology, could reveal the president's location within a few feet.
Apparently, a compromise has been reached that lets Obama "stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends," Gibbs said.
The National Security Agency (NSA) has approved a $3,350 smart phone for Obama's use. This spy-proof alternative is called the "BarackBerry." The question is whether it's a real BlackBerry, and the answer seems to be "no," although "BlackBerry" has become more of a generic term than product-specific nomenclature. The BarackBerry, an exclusive Sectera Edge made by General Dynamics, is reportedly capable of encrypting top secret voice conversations and handling classified documents. But instant messaging in the White House will still be out of the question.
Use of the device "will be limited and the security is enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate but to do so effectively," Gibbs also said. "And to do so in a way that is protected."
Gibbs says records of the president's mobile communications would be kept, in accordance with the law.
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