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Obama Fighting For His Blackberry... But May Be Losing

from the the-lawyers-win!-the-lawyers-win! dept

Right after the election, there was plenty of talk about how President-elect Obama would need to give up email just as President Bush did when he took office eight years ago. As plenty of people pointed out at the time, this seems like a pretty silly concept. There should be at least some way to allow Obama to continue to use this important and useful form of communication -- if only to allow him some access "outside the bubble" of DC. And, indeed, Obama made it clear that he would fight to figure out some way to keep emailing -- especially via his precious Blackberry. However, the latest news isn't looking good -- as Obama is noting that he still has been unable to convince both the security folks and the lawyers that he should be allowed to keep the Blackberry. Apparently, there are times when it's not so good to be the king.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:05pm

    the Israeli Defense Force has assassinated people using
    the signal from cell phones.

    Why on earth would any security service allow their
    leader to have a wireless device which has a signature
    which can be scanned out of the air, acting as a
    homing beacon?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:23pm

      Re:

      Sounds like another lame excuse based on fear. If what you detailed was such an issue, Secret Service Agents wouldn't communicate via any type of wireless device, nor would the handlers, or immediate family members. Get real.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        ehrichweiss, 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:31pm

        Re: Re:

        Actually it's pretty accurate.

        The hole in your assertion becomes clear when you realize that you're talking about secret service agents, not the people that they're protecting.

        It wouldn't take long to create a device that could hunt someone through their Blackberry PIN or the like, and merely knowing that someone is within 75 yards is more info than you might want known about a world leader at a specific time, especially in a zone that's a lot harder to secure than, say, the Whitehouse.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:37pm

        Re: Re:

        I doubt that the secret service uses standard
        communications systems. But, even if they did, you
        don't know what frequency, and you don't know the
        individual identifiers of each device.

        The blackberry is using a known frequency,
        so it's just a 'locator beacon' as another person
        points out.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:29pm

      Re:

      Well, there is a bright side. I suppose his Zune WiFi would be a homing beacon too. Let's get him a nice, shiny iPod!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Joe, 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:43pm

      Re:

      Well how is this any different then them using the cellphones on the secret service agents? Also i don't think this is about him having a cell phone i think this is about a black berry, and having an email account that he uses as it will have a record.

      I say let him use email...just have them purge it if needed every month.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2009 @ 6:37am

      Re:

      Come one. With all the tech, knowledge and resources the NSA/CIA has, they surely could be able to make his crackberry secure if they wanted to.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:09pm

    POTUS needs to be connected.

    Do we really want another Bush? Look at how out of touch he is with reality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James (profile), 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:21pm

      Re: POTUS needs to be connected.

      I guess Clinton was just as disconnected since the article states that he did not use email either.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:23pm

      Re: POTUS needs to be connected.

      "out of touch with reality..."

      Well,look at who's living in the past 8 years... reality is the now...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      nathan smack, 8 Jan 2009 @ 3:10pm

      Re: POTUS needs to be connected.

      This is a non issue being blown out of proportion by the press and other outlets. The pres. can and does communicate as often and from any outlet he so chooses. Caveat... it must be done with the strictest adherance to national security and be subject to the laws that dictate public access to government documents. This President will undoubtedly set new precident in public communication and has already shown his desire for transparency in his inagural fundraising. Ultimatley he will have to decide that following the security mandates are in the best interest of the Country. I appoligize for any typos... I typed this from my palm centro which is decidedly better than any bb product save the storm :)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Scott, 8 Jan 2009 @ 5:35pm

      Re: POTUS needs to be connected.

      If 2 years you will be wishing for someone like Bush to get us out of the mess Obama is going to put us in. I pray every day to be wrong about this but somehow don't think my prayers will be answered.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    usmcdvldg, 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:22pm

    Silly?

    E-mail is the most unsecured form of communication on earth minus a loudspeaker; And a blackberry is basically a locator beacon in a fancy shell.

    What he possibly thinks he's going to write to someone that anyone on earth will eventually read, I have no idea.

    And how he thinks he will be able to cope with any tech savy sicko being able to know his location to within 1/2 mile, idk.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:41pm

      Re: Silly?

      E-mail is the most unsecured form of communication on earth minus a loudspeaker

      Indeed. But as long as you recognize that and communicate accordingly, what's the problem?

      And a blackberry is basically a locator beacon in a fancy shell.

      That's a totally bogus reason. If it were true, no one in the President's company could bring a mobile phone with them. Hell, if it's really a problem, just keep rotating phones. This is pretty straightforward.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Joe, 13 Jan 2009 @ 11:52am

        Re: Re: Silly?

        No one in the Presidents direct company as a matter of course IS permitted to carry a cell phone. We have secure communications for that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2009 @ 9:30am

      Re: Silly?

      Actually, no. You can get two-factor add-ons for completely encrypted email over a blackberry http://na.blackberry.com/eng/ataglance/security/products/smartcardreader/

      It's the same technology that the DOD uses for authenticating people when they login to secure communications systems.

      I think that a bigger worry would be that Blackberry's servers are controlled by a foreign power (Canada) and there is a legal requirement to track and catalog all presidential communications.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    weneedhelp, 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:28pm

    Good to be the king?

    Good to be the king? Must I remind TechDirt that we are a republic? Haven't we had 8 years of an administration that thought they were kings? All that's going on, and he is worried about a toy?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Theoden, 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:49pm

      Re: Good to be the king?

      Not familiar with Mel Brooks, are you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        TW Burger, 12 Jan 2009 @ 4:38pm

        Re: Re: Good to be the king?

        History of the World (Part 1)

        Harvey Korman as Count de Monet: "Sire, the people are revolting."

        Mel Brooks as King Louis XVI: "Your right... they stink on ice."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    drtaxsacto, 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:29pm

    The Presidential Blackberry

    Absolutely, the President should be able to have a Blackberry (or even better an iPhone). The technology is readily available by routing that all those messages can be archived to make the lawyers happy - but if we learned anything from the last couple of presidents - they should have opportunities to be outside the bubble . The security folks want the president inside the bubble and that causes problems for our democracy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      usmcdvldg, 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:39pm

      Re: The Presidential Blackberry

      No a president should become the president already well versed in the world, not gain this incite after being elected.

      And two, the president should not be carrying any device that continuously transmits an easily detectable radio signal, especially if that signal is transmitting easily decipherable communications!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Sean Henry, 8 Jan 2009 @ 3:04pm

        Re: Re: The Presidential Blackberry

        Have all emails routed to a secure server then the server forwards the message encrypted and have decryption software installed on the phone and reply via connection to the secured server. Change the encryption key every week or when ever the phone is synced.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 8 Jan 2009 @ 4:06pm

        Re: Re: The Presidential Blackberry

        "No a president should become the president already well versed in the world, not gain this incite after being elected."

        The world changes significantly over a presidential term, especially in these turbulent, technology-driven times. Do we really want the president's only view of the world from this day forward to be the one filtered throuhg special advisors?

        "And two, the president should not be carrying any device that continuously transmits an easily detectable radio signal, especially if that signal is transmitting easily decipherable communications!"

        Anyone using such a device for matters of national security would be a fool, and I doubt Obama is such a person. Without classified data on the device, what's the danger? If you're thinking of triangulating his position, I'm sure the device would be disabled when he's in any kind of danger or where the device would pose some other physical risk.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2009 @ 9:33am

        Re: Re: The Presidential Blackberry

        Just put the phone in a mylar bag when you are not using or had it to an aide.

        It's not like people around him don't have these devices, or people he's meeting. How many times have you seen other world leaders on cell phones....

        Fundamentally, this is misplaced paranoia and a question of institutional control.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2009 @ 2:53pm

    Email is displacing more and more communications these days, and to think it's useless and a message needs to be telegraphed to i.e. Rahm before it gets to Barack is inefficient to say the least. Maybe the Google boys can come up with an Android-based push-email system that is more secure and has a daily-randomized homing beacon. Surely they could do it in a few months to replace the Blackberry.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Phil, 8 Jan 2009 @ 3:00pm

    I got the answer for the beacon problem

    Use prepaid wireless service and buy a new blackberry every day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Todd, 8 Jan 2009 @ 3:20pm

    why did you post this article

    it has absolutely nothing new in it and is practically content-free.

    i read this site for the insightful analysis and news, and i'm honestly disappointed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Wesha, 8 Jan 2009 @ 3:26pm

    > Why on earth would any security service allow
    > their leader to have a wireless device which has
    > a signaturewhich can be scanned out of the air,
    > acting as a homing beacon?

    Well, they carry the Briefcase of Nuclear Doom just fine...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2009 @ 3:30pm

      Re:

      >> Well, they carry the Briefcase of Nuclear Doom just fine...

      Can anyone confirm if that has a 24,000 mile cable attached to it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Long, 8 Jan 2009 @ 3:38pm

    What reasons?

    Saying that there are "security" issue is too general. As such, it would be nice to know exactly what issues and fears they're discussing, since many might apply to all of the other people out there who use the service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Veronica Eaton, 8 Jan 2009 @ 3:57pm

    more money for consumers

    Dear Mr. President:

    A friend of mine suggested to me 2 major problems in this country dealing with finances - the credit bureau and the irs, without these 2 thorns in the consumers pocketbook, the american people could save and look forward to the future instead of worrying about social security benefits. FICA score prevents the consumers from getting credit, and the irs tax the consumers thousands and millions of dollars every year. The consumer has to paY the tax person from $100 and up to file their taxes and in some cases the consumer HAVE TO PAY IRS.


    Thank You

    Veronica Eaton

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Peter Griffin, 8 Jan 2009 @ 11:52pm

      Re: more money for consumers

      IRS is working on that.
      http://economy.kansascity.com/?q=node/709

      What really grinds my gears is that the bailout money isn't being used to lend to businesses or consumers. This is key in maintaining open stores and purchasing. Instead, TARP seems to be used to maintain day-to-day business for the financial institutions and also fund buyouts of banks. In the process, it seems to be triaging THEIR OWN risk down to their customers, and in the process, setting their customers up for times of financial hardship.

      However, things get even more cumbersome when people start to learn that in the past 7 years, many companies have started using consumer credit screening as part of hiring and even internal promotion process for candidates. Passed up for a promotion? Maybe your too high of a credit risk. What a scary thought! But when the dust storm settles, and the economy is fixed (by whatever means that happens) I have a feeling many people will be very angry at these types of practices once they realize this is happening.

      But yes, I agree, it's best to safeguard your FICO score, guard it with your life, don't buy luxuries, and save the best you can, (which is counter-direction of a debtor society). Who knows, you may be in a better position for that promotion than you thought!

      But there's going to be a lot of changes and perhaps the definition of an EOE needs to expand to a company that doesn't need to determine if you need a promotion based on your (private life) FICO score.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mslade, 8 Jan 2009 @ 4:20pm

    That's right, keep thinking inside the box, people. That's how progress happens. There's absolutely no way on this planet that one could communicate with cellular technology without giving away ones location. Nope. The technology simply doesn't exist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      AdamLee, 8 Jan 2009 @ 4:55pm

      Re:

      On your same sarcastic note... you don't think there is someone out there who can hack "whatever" signal he may be using. No matter how high tech or top secret, if he is using "emails" and making phone calls, he is broadcasting a wireless signal of some type. If theres a signal, you can be traced. Come on? Think about it...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        mslade, 8 Jan 2009 @ 5:37pm

        Re: Re:

        Quite true. But on that topic, there is no security. So it's now a question of what you'll give up for a little more security. I can think of a good number of ways that our president's security is exposed that are much more serious than a blackberry, with human fallibility or naivety being top among them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2009 @ 7:07pm

        Re: Re:

        Trace a signal that's spread on a million random frequencies
        all at once?

        This type of communication, at this point, is one of the most secure that the military has got -- precisely because it cannot be distingushed from background noise.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 8 Jan 2009 @ 4:33pm

    BS

    Security concerns? Please. It's the lawyers who are freaked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rizwan, 8 Jan 2009 @ 6:17pm

    So like, who emails obama anyway? Word of the day?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mike the Sike, 8 Jan 2009 @ 6:30pm

    lots of Ignoramuses here.....

    its NOT that the device can be tracked...they can mod a Blackberry for him that would be completely annonomyus and all GPS type of tracking can be disabled on it.

    It's that email is the most unsecure form of communication out there (as an earlier poster noted). It is sent in the clear, no encryption. Email travels a lot of places before arriving at its destination. So anyone at any stop can technically see it. I am in IT an handle many exchange servers. You'd be suprised the stuff I see that getws trapped in filters, or stuck in SMTP servers, etc. People are so stupid when it comes to this and they also belileve that once they delete email its gone. Uh no....its all archived and can be retrived....

    Second reason is the most obvious....its IN WRITING. Unlike a phone conversation (unless its recorded, everything said is memorialized and part of legal discovery.

    So I am not a fan of NObama, I emphathise with him because I am a Crackberry user too, but this just exemplpifies his inexperience alomost as bad as picking Panetta, a person with NO intelligence record, as CIA chief. Just unbelievable and dangerous in these times.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2009 @ 6:32pm

    wow: 34 comments and no one's mentioned the military? more-than-less secure forms of communication exist. i can't believe for a minute that the usa can surprise its enemies (or those it makes enemies) with military strikes without coordinating its attacks and communicating the plans to relevant stakeholders. work it out and let the man run the world already!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2009 @ 7:09pm

    uhhmmm....who's the President? If I were President, you wouldn't see me giving up email and screw a blackberry, I'd have an iPhone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Phillip Vector, 8 Jan 2009 @ 7:46pm

    His code

    Just curious here.. Wouldn't someone need to know what the "pin code" is for that blackberry before they could track it? I don't see someone even knowing that data except perhaps if someone checked and confirmed that it was correct.

    So... Let him have it. If the terrorists use it to attack, they can't know what signal to track.. I mean, how could they know? I'm not trying to be snarky, but I'm curious how a terrorist can learn the presidents personal "pin"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2009 @ 9:14pm

      Re: His code

      No. A PIN code just is the "address" to send mail. You still need to exchange the 3DES cryptographic keys, which if I remember correctly, is done over a hard-wired USB connection.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Paul Stout (profile), 9 Jan 2009 @ 12:51am

    Obama Fighting For His Blackberry... But May Be Losing

    I don't know why he should be losing, or even why the subject is considered important enough to be discussed in the news.

    Granted, the security folks, Secret Service etc., will have their objections concerning his security, but when it comes right down to it, all they can do is advise. I don't really see how they can force him to give it up. When it comes down to the final decision it's his choice to make, not theirs, on how much he follows personal security routines.

    Myself, in his shoes, I'd just tell them to go to hell and I'll use the phone. The Secret Service folks wouldn't like it, but ultimately it's still his decision to make, not theirs.

    If I remember correctly, way back at the start of Clinton's first term there was a bit of a brouhaha over security on his daily morning runs. Clinton finally gave in enough to allow one security agent to accompany him on those morning runs. The Secret Security people distinctly didn't like it, but all they could do was advise, not command. The final decision wasn't for the Secret Service to make.

    So, if Obama wants to use his Blackberry, in spite of any increase of personal security it might cause, it's his choice and more power to him. It's his life and his decision on just how much of a security blanket that will be around him. You don't give that up just because you became President.

    Personally, I think it's ridiculous that there is even all this much discussion about the subject. It tell's me that the newspapers/TV new/reporters either have too much time on their hands or it's a slow news month and they aren't capable of thinking of anything else important enough to comment about.

    No wonder I quit reading newspapers for my news! I get it faster and, more importantly, with considerably more accuracy via the Internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    aep528, 9 Jan 2009 @ 5:00am

    Classified information and cell phones

    I didn't read all of the posts, but there is another reason that people are probably not aware of: Cell phones are not allowed in areas where classified information is discussed. Period. No exceptions. If you're caught with an active cell phone you lose your clearance. Period. Why should the same rules not apply to the president?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mary-chicago, 20 Jan 2009 @ 5:15am

    blackberry

    i believe he should be allowed to still use it to browse the internet even if he can not e-mail. This is how he gets to stay in touch with the real world. It is what keeps his attention focused on whats happening in the lives of every normal american. Thats what I want from our President. I want to know that he hasn't lost sight of why he was elected.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    vashsgfv, 20 Jan 2009 @ 11:38am

    y87y7ughhu

    kmmiij0iokokyoioeopktokookokokokyijipewooko9i9iy99

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jANici, 7 Jan 2010 @ 2:02am

    Re

    People’s community would get know just about how it works. Sometimes we adjure custom essay sites about this topic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Calcium Carbonate, 26 Nov 2010 @ 1:59am

    Obama is a great and intelligent person, he can solve their problem easily. So their is not be flurry.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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