Friday, January 23, 2009

President Obama is keeping his Blackberry

I've been following the saga of our new President and his Blackberry addiction for a while now. The rumors were rampant that the texting and e-mailing would have to stop after the oath of office for several reasons.

One was the security of being able to locate the President due to his cell phone signal - this seems to have been overcome with a secure version of the Blackberry. The second concern was that presidential communications are considered part of the public record and that all his electronic communications would fall under that.

It turns out that the federal law actually exempts any "personal records" that do not relate to the president's official function. Therefore personal stuff is safe.

President Obama has wanted to use the Blackberry to keep in touch with those outside his immediate circle and hopes its use will keep him grounded. In a recent interview with CNBC he stated:

"It's not just the flow of information. I mean, I can get somebody to print out clips for me, and I can read newspapers. What it has to do with is having mechanisms where you are interacting with people who are outside of the White House in a meaningful way. And I've got to look for every opportunity to do that--ways that aren't scripted, ways that aren't controlled, ways where, you know, people aren't just complimenting you or standing up when you enter into a room, ways of staying grounded."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stated the decision to allow Obama to keep a smartphone is "a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends. Use 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."

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