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Solving Obama's BlackBerry Dilemma

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the first-personal-communicator dept.

Security 374

CurtMonash writes "Much is being made of the deliberations as to whether President Obama will be able to keep using his beloved "BarackBerry." As the NYTimes details, there are two major sets of objections: infosecurity and legal/records retention. Deven Coldeway of CrunchGear does a good job of showing that the technological infosecurity problems can be solved. And as I've noted elsewhere, the 'Omigod, he left his Blackberry behind at dinner' issue is absurd. Presidents are surrounded by attendants, Secret Service and otherwise. Somebody just has to be given the job of keeping track of the president's personal communication device. As for the legal question of whether the president can afford to put things in writing that will likely be exposed by courts and archivists later — the answer to that surely depends on the subject matter or recipient. Email to his Chicago friends — why not? Anything he'd write to them would be necessarily non-secret anyway. Email to the Secretary of Defense? That might be a different matter."

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374 comments

Who Cares? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26440787)

Talk about a waste of bandwidth.

Re:Who Cares? (5, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440849)

    Aw come on, he's the first US President that could use one. :)

   

Re:Who Cares? (4, Funny)

JFDMit (314026) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441413)

To be fair, he's the first President in eight years that has opposable thumbs.

Re:Who Cares? (5, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441525)

Actually, Bill Clinton used one. Here's a clue: Monica Lewinsky with the blackberry in vibrate mode in the oval office.

research in motion (5, Insightful)

jfrdtrtyvyui (1221434) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440827)

Its interesting to think of how much money Research in Motion would spend developing a unit specifically for him, that met all of the security criteria, just so he would be seen with it. I imagine some type of self destruct feature would be necessary, in addition to insane encryption.

Re:research in motion (4, Insightful)

retech (1228598) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440875)

As if they'd never recoup that in the copious amount of free adverts they've already received?

Re:research in motion (2, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441059)

I'm sure they could recoup the money in no time, showing targeted ads to the president on his phone.

I bet RIM could get a lineup of people out their door and down the street, each with a wheelbarrow of money, to get their ad displayed on the phone of the president. Even in this economy.

Re:research in motion (3, Insightful)

topham (32406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440893)

The one major issue with thi... RIM is a foreign company.

Re:research in motion (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26440957)

The one major issue with thi... RIM is a foreign company.

That can be solved. Once Obama pulls all the troops back from Iraq, they can invade Canada. :-)

Re:research in motion (4, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440983)

Once Obama pulls all the troops back from Iraq, they can invade Canada. :-)

Pffft, easier said than done. If you think an Iraqi insurgent with an IED is a tough adversary just wait until you see a Canadian with a hockey stick..... besides, I don't think the Baldwin family can afford a war with Canada ;)

Re:research in motion (5, Funny)

saforrest (184929) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441075)

Pffft, easier said than done. If you think an Iraqi insurgent with an IED is a tough adversary just wait until you see a Canadian with a hockey stick...

That, and we maintain a threatening lead in Zamboni technology [imdb.com]!

Re:research in motion (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441249)

That, and we maintain a threatening lead in Zamboni technology [imdb.com]!

True. Of course we have a 29 to 1 advantage in baseball teams and all of those guys use steroids so they could be pretty tough to beat in a fight ;)

Re:research in motion (4, Funny)

geobeck (924637) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441631)

True. Of course we have a 29 to 1 advantage in baseball teams and all of those guys use steroids so they could be pretty tough to beat in a fight ;)

Yeah, those baseball players make terrifying adversaries--except that they have to stop to catch their breath after chasing you 90 feet. :p

I guess us Canucks have to watch ourselves though; I'm sure Sarah Palin is keeping an eye on us from her house.

Re:research in motion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441559)

besides, I don't think the Baldwin family can afford a war with Canada ;)

I don't get it??

Re:research in motion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441587)

All the good players in the Canadian hockey teams are Swedish, so what, exactly, were you planning with the hockey sticks?

Re:research in motion (3, Informative)

Kippesoep (712796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441167)

Didn't they try something like that in 1812 already? Didn't they set fire to the White House? Didn't the Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie make a wonderful song about that?

Re:research in motion (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441373)

The British set fire to the White House, yes. They did in retaliation for the torching of Parliament in Montreal by Americans, a fact that doesn't make it into U.S. history textbooks 200 years later.

(Incidentally, the White House was deserted quickly immediately prior to the visit by the British Soldiers, and they discovered a state dinner waiting for them. So they ate first and then torched the White House.

Re:research in motion (2, Funny)

Kleen13 (1006327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441407)

I'll be waiting.... gimme a couple days notice and I'll start icing the Keg. I'm sure the troops are thirsty.

Re:research in motion (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440999)

Options:

Lo-tech:
RFID tag tracking system, so it never moves beyond a certain range:
http://www.remoteplay.com/TagAlertHome.asp [remoteplay.com]

Hi-tech:
Some type of optical scanner, like iris recognition:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iris_recognition [wikipedia.org]

Re:research in motion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441645)

He can switch to an Android device, there is a security app that uses the built in camera as an iris scanner.

Re:research in motion (3, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441057)

I suspect there's some reason that I noticed "DOD Root Certificates" installed on mine. :) There must be some arrangement with the gov't for security, at least of some sort. I doubt that the President should be (or would be) sending much over it though. It's not necessarily the idea that it's a smart phone, and he could lose it (as I noticed someone else said), but that the data is transiting insecure networks.

    And hey, one mistyped address, and some state secret may end up going across insecure networks, to an insecure individual. He is President after all, even an innocent note like "Honey, I'll be home at 8:30, then we can watch that movie" is a huge security concern. The White House is a big place, at least big enough where a targeted attack wouldn't necessarily do much of anything. Knowing he'll be sitting on the couch in whatever room the President would watch movies, at a specific time, is a dangerous thing.

    The again, so far just about everyone loves Obama. :) I'm thinking sometime within the first year, he'd be safe to sit in the front yard of the White House on a lawn chair, smoking a cigar and talking sh1t with foreign diplomats.

    Hmmm, what's this text I just received?

From: 2024561414@blackberry.net
To: jwsmythe
Subject: evac

Evac ASAP. Bird inbound. ETA 10min

Re:research in motion (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441567)

They're already secure enough to be standard issue to all Congress critters, including AES encryption and (software) self and remote destruct. Wouldn't be too much of a leap for the Presidential model.

The Sectera Edge (2, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440845)

I just did a pretty good submission [slashdot.org] about the very same issue. Now, alas, redundant. But I did pick up one useful new fact: General Dynamics makes something called a Sectera Edge which would probably be a good, secure, replacement for the Obamaberry.

If Bush was intelligent... (0, Flamebait)

GagliardiMan (974622) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440855)

...enough to use an electronic device without it being a security problem I don't see why Obama couldn't handle such a difficult task as president.

Re:If Bush was intelligent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26440881)

Bush went out of his way to avoid any device that could leave records.

Re:If Bush was intelligent... (3, Insightful)

Kleen13 (1006327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441445)

Can't figure why... I mean, it's not like he has anything to hide, right?

Re:If Bush was intelligent... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441247)

we'd have global peace, world respect, safe alternative energy sources, global warming under control, a thriving economy, a bright future for our children, and Bin Hidin' would be about 3 years from finishing his first decade of a million-year sentence.

Ooops.

the answer is obvious. (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440861)

The solution is simple -- the government already has PDAs that tie into their networks and are secure. He will use that for classified information, as required by law anyway. His blackberry will be used for non-classified information. Separation between the two is also required by law. Now, why are we fangirling over Obama like this? This wasn't news when Bush was in office and he used a cell phone and a PDA too. Now I wait for my -1, didn't fangirl score.

Re:the answer is obvious. (3, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440937)

This wasn't news when Bush was in office and he used a cell phone and a PDA too

Because a blackberry is so much harder to use than a PDA and cell phone ;) Or maybe it's an issue of race.

Sarcasm aside, it is a bit annoying that suddenly, the choice of dog and the use of a communication device is "big news." It's not big news, Presidents have had communication devices for years and dogs for much longer.

I can see it now. Headline news back in the day was undoubtedly "President Washington to Choose Arabian or Quarterhorse?" Of course, news was a lot slower, so the horse would have likely already died by the time anyone heard about the decision.

Re:the answer is obvious. (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441063)

Sarcasm aside, it is a bit annoying that suddenly, the choice of dog and the use of a communication device is "big news."

It's only big news if you watch CNN, MSNBC or Fox. The network news broadcasts have barely mentioned it and the Newshour hasn't even touched on it at all. I'm sorry to say that I get most of my news from Jim Lehrer and I'm completely out of the loop on what dog the Obama family is considering getting. I should write PBS and tell them they need to do a better job of covering this important story.

Just remember the cable news people are the same ones that can devote hours of coverage (and helicopters!) to Britney Spears arraignment while our country is bogged down in two wars, one of which they apparently forgot existed until recently. I just can't take them seriously any longer.

Re:the answer is obvious. (3, Informative)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441451)

Well, I don't watch any TV, let alone news. And most news is no better, as far as being opinionated, than talk radio (which, ironically, I do listen to).

That said, I think NPR (not sure if that is necessarily the same as PBS though) is decidedly biased as well. And I might add, NPR did cover the dog story on "All Things Considered." (Online here. [npr.org])

Re:the answer is obvious. (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441011)

This isn't a question of Classified vs Unclassified information. This is a question of covering the Commander in Chief's ass if things became public knowledge that were never meant to be.

Notice how there's no email trail linking President Bush to the torture of terror suspects or the tapping of our phone lines. If the president sends an email, it legally must be saved. If he has a private meeting with his advisors, all that needs to be recorded is who spoke to whom and when.

A better solution to this problems is: 'Hey, maybe the president shouldn't order or condone illegal or unethical behavior regardless of whether or not there is a record of his statements.'

Re:the answer is obvious. (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441019)

Now I wait for my -1, didn't fangirl score.

You should be modded down just for asking.

There was discussion that he wouldn't be able to continue using the Blackberry at all, which seemed to many people odd that we'd force our President to be less connected and capable of keeping himself informed than he was previously.

I also think people are keeping an eye on it because Obama seems far more "with it" than Bush, who admitted that he didn't so much as read newspapers (until 2006, when he backtracked.)

Re:the answer is obvious. (-1, Troll)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441179)

"This wasn't news when Bush was in office and he used a cell phone and a PDA too."

That is simply not true.

Everyone knows that Bush was incapable of operating a cellphone and a PDA. You insensitive clod!

Re:the answer is obvious. (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441345)

No you fools, all his communications were in hand written letters inked with the blood of clubbed baby seals.

Re:the answer is obvious. (2, Interesting)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441305)

The solution is simple -- the government already has PDAs that tie into their networks and are secure. He will use that for classified information, as required by law anyway. His blackberry will be used for non-classified information. Separation between the two is also required by law. Now, why are we fangirling over Obama like this? This wasn't news when Bush was in office and he used a cell phone and a PDA too. Now I wait for my -1, didn't fangirl score.

Or, why not take away his personal blackberry, and give him a government-issued one? They're already so prevalent throughout the government, so why not give him one? Then you can do the BES thing and have remote wipe, and have all emails sent through it archived. And given the encryption already on it, I'm sure it's usable for classified stuff as well.

If he wants, he can tell his friends his new email address, or forward his current emails onwards.

At least, it should be possible, no? Everyone raves about how good BES is at doing stuff and keeping records...

Re:the answer is obvious. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441575)

Or, why not take away his personal blackberry, and give him a government-issued one? They're already so prevalent throughout the government, so why not give him one? Then you can do the BES thing and have remote wipe, and have all emails sent through it archived. And given the encryption already on it, I'm sure it's usable for classified stuff as well.

Classified? No. While blackberries are very secure and have been audited from end-to-end [blackberry.com] by many government agencies, they are currently certified for "Sensitive But Unclassified" information by the US government.

For example, blackerries aren't tempest [wikipedia.org] shielded.

Re:the answer is obvious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441347)

Because when you have 8 hours of TV to fill you make do with random shit like this

Fangirls of the World Unite! (5, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441481)

This wasn't news when Bush was in office and he used a cell phone and a PDA too.

Actually, it was an issue for Bush, though it had nothing to do with phone calls or PDA functionality.

Obama is a notorious IM addict. He pretty much ran his campaign through his Blackberry. Now of course, you can use a Blackberry to make phone calls and track your appointments, but that's not why he's under pressure to give it up. The security wonks don't like the potential for text messages getting intercepted, and the lawyers don't like the legal exposure he'd get if the messages were subpoenaed or FOIAed.

I'm not sure if Bush ever had a Blackberry or a PDA, but he used to be a heavy email user. He went cold turkey when he assumed office. According to his "last email" that went out to all his correspondents, it was mainly about the legal exposure.

An NSA-approved smart phone is probably the solution to the security issue. (See one of the submissions in my sig.) I suspect Obama will just blow off the legal issue. He's supposed to be Mr. Open Government, after all.

Now I wait for my -1, didn't fangirl score.

And you'd deserve it! People who don't like fangirl stories (what happened to fanboys?) have no place on Slashdot!

But this is not a fanchild issue. Obama keeps talking about the dangers of living in the "Presidential Bubble" [washingtonpost.com]. One way he wants to avoid this is to have a lot of contacts that aren't mediated by his underlings. A Blackberry or other pocket IM device is an obvious tool for this purpose.

I suspect he's being a little naive. He's going to be in charge of the biggest bureaucracy on the planet — does he really think that he can be on a first-person basis with the whole kaboodle? But hey, he's surprised us before!

Re:the answer is obvious. (2, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441563)

The articles mention RIM's network in all that, which causes me pause-- Is RIM still forcing people to send information to their servers? If so, can anyone give me a single good reason for that, and why I, as a customer, would want that rather than a normal IMAP+SSL connection to my own mail server?

Ok, that aside, I'm just wondering... isn't there some point at which we admit that e-mail sent over the internet, as things operate today, is just an inherently insecure method of communication? I mean, I guess you could encrypt all your messages (PGP-style), but nobody does that, and short of doing that, there's nothing to prevent someone from eavesdropping.

There's a lot to talk about here, but I hope Obama keeps fighting for his Blackberry-- not for his own sake, but it makes sense in concert with his promise to improve Internet infrastructure. If the secret service can't figure out a way for the President to have a secure smartphone, then we should be asking "what needs to happen to make that possible?" From there, the next question should be, "What needs to happen to make it possible for consumers to have access to secure smartphones?"

username (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441647)

Just wondering, by "girl in training" do you mean transexual? If so, that's awesome. I've recently started my transition (male to female).

It seems we should figure this out. (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440869)

This is only going to become more pertinent of an issue. We might as well figure it out now. If we don't, we'll just have to figure out a system next time, as in four or eight years this will only be more common.

It's not like a system couldn't be devised that would work, they just need to look at the specific roadblocks and figure something out.

As McCain said, we should get together the smartest people in the country to solve this problem. He's a smart guy coming up with cutting edge ideas like that. ;)
-Taylor

security nuts (0)

jay2003 (668095) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440887)

This is a perfect example of how security nuts make life difficult even for people in positions of tremendous power. He's the head of the government. Logically, Obama should just be able to say, "I'm keeping my Blackberry" and have his staff figure out how comply to with records retention, etc. It's not that hard.

That Obama doesn't automatically win this one as the most powerful man is world makes me feel better about the continually hassles I'm forced to put up with by the IT department in name of "security.

Re:security nuts (2, Insightful)

SoapBox17 (1020345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441039)

I think the reason he doesn't just say "I want this" and have it be done is not because he can't, but because he realizes that he has advisors to figure out if it is a good idea. It could be that all of the issues could be handled, but that doing so would cost a lot of tax payer dollars.

Re:security nuts (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441163)

This is a perfect example of how security nuts make life difficult even for people in positions of tremendous power.

ESPECIALLY for people in positions of tremendous power.
Think of all the trouble Hitler went through because of Enigma hackers!

We'd be cowering in fear of some pretty awesome looking aircraft right now if you could ignore security nuts with impunity.

i just got off the toilet (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26440925)

i shit out an obama

Government Phone (1)

binaryseraph (955557) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440927)

I'm a little surprised that the US Govt. does not have a communication service just for its own executive office. One would think they could find a way to utilize thechnology's that RIM has introduced, to a more secure network. Maybe a PGP encrypted phone? I seem to recall there being some sort of encryption software for windows mobile OS, surely such a piece of software could be put in place, in combination with a govt. run communications network to ensure that our president can 1. keep his blackberry and 2. allow for the office of the presidency to opperate in the 21st century. THe only problem that could arise in this is the legal issues of archiving all emails sent to/by the president- as we may recall a few years back the large uproar of RNC email addresses being used to conduct federal matters. But I'm sure congress can work out that detail.

BarackBerry (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26440947)

"BarackBerry."

It's funny because he's black!

Barack is not Black. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441195)

He's actually a Mulatto, much like Tiger Woods is actually more Asian than Black . We still don't have an actual pure Black African president. Step away from the "c-c-c-combo breaker" pics.

Obamatard portmanteaus (5, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440975)

Can we stop all this portmanteau crap? Please? It's like the imaginary label "President-Elect"...

PS:

And as I've noted elsewhere, the 'Omigod, he left his Blackberry behind at dinner' issue is absurd

No, it's not. The people who surround the president have (practically since the inception of nuclear weapons) had problems keeping the codes or the authorization mechanisms physically secure, despite the fact that the fucking thing is in fact attached to the person carrying it:

On occasion the President has left his aide carrying the football behind. This happened to Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush[2] and, most recently, Bill Clinton on April 24, 1999.[3] In none of these cases was the integrity of the football breached. clicky [wikipedia.org].

It's one thing for a "football" which is specifically designed to not rely just on restricted access, but if someone got ahold of Obama's blackberry, getting into it isn't nearly as challenging.

Also, the article submitter doesn't have the remotest understanding of how things work at a presidential level in regards to information security; its not as simple as "zOMG, do not email the sec of defense on blackberry!" Bush went so far as to keep his press secretary at arm's length so that he was truly ignorant on stuff that Bush didn't want the press to know about.

Much of information security at that level isn't about actual classified information, but dissemination of unclassified information to the media that is either beneficial or hurtful to other political entities and individuals, domestic or foreign.

Re:Obamatard portmanteaus (0, Flamebait)

malkman (539215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440991)

Somehow if Bush could manage it, I think he can too :)

Re:Obamatard portmanteaus (0)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441515)

Somehow if Bush could manage it, I think he can too :)

Obama is actually extremely close to his pick for press secretary, and is probably interested in strengthening the executive branch via non-authoritarian ways.

That's where the much more significant debate has been; the press are excited at the possibility of a press secretary who is very close to the to-be President, but also wondering if it'll work out for the administration or not as it tries to pursue its goals.

I highly recommend listening to NPR/PRI podcasts, like On Point with Tom Ashbrook, and Fresh Air if you want to learn more about this stuff.

Re:Obamatard portmanteaus (2, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441071)

"Can we stop all this portmanteau crap? Please? It's like the imaginary label "President-Elect"... "

OK, you win. No more Obamanteaus.

Arm Chair (1)

SoapBox17 (1020345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441005)

Do you really think that no one on Obama's team can figure out whether or not there are issues with him having a PDA. This article seems to indicate that they know something the rest of Obama's team and he himself don't know.... But they obviously have no idea what the issues with the presidential records act are, let alone the ridiculousity of chiseling a security argumenet down to a self destruct feature. I hope everyone on /. already knows there is more to security than whether or not the device can be erased after someone realizes it is lost (potentially well after it has fall into nefarious hands).

sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441009)

so you have the best communications one would ever want and you want to keep your shitberry? your already a dumb ass for that.. everything you get once your pres is 15x better than your blackberry just STFU and deal with it you dbag..

solution - an iphone (1)

cmbondi (974579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441041)

problem solved, oh and I think the CTO for the federal government should be Steve Jobs once he feels better and the first project for the Obama administration should be to convert the entire government to Macs and OS X. Then we would be safe and effective as a nation!

Who Cares? (1)

lemur666 (313121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441077)

We keep forgetting what the original purpose of these little electronic gizmos was.

Or... they call them Personal Digital Assistants for a reason.

So call me crazy, but I'm guessing the POTUS just might have the resources to get an actual Personal Assistant to handle all of the functions of a PDA.

Plus I hear the voice-based interface on PAs is a snap to learn.

Re:Who Cares? (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441245)

I think you nailed it. PDAs are great for those of us who don't have a staff. I think in the case of POTUS, Mr. Obama will soon discover he doesn't need to thumb around on a tiny keyboard when he is sitting in the most sophisticated communications centers on earth. And if he wants to know Toot's recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup, I'm sure he has only but to ask.

I care. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441325)

Mr. Obama is on my payroll (just like every State and Federal employee) and I want to know where my money is being spent.

I don't know what you pay in taxes but I let every City, State and Federal employee know that I want them to spend *MY* money properly. Sure, you say it is a small portion but when 39% of my cash goes to "the government", it is real fucking number to me.

I have a buddy who works for the city. We were discussing the recent zoning laws that changed (without my input) and I commented that "well, the city knows what's best". He laughed and said sometimes they don't. I asked then if he did his job well and if he knew how to do his job best and of course he said "I'd like to think so". I then commented "well, we have a conflict here". He was quite confused as to how to answer.

Personally, I'd like to see every congressperson have their financial dealings in read-only mode on the web for any US Citizen to read. "Public servants" are a thing of the past.

As a side note: I took my first State contract and made $4500 for a job someone who was paid $2000 could do in 1/8th of the time. I offered to find that person, save the State money and was denied the opportunity. That's the last time I worked for the State.

Re:Who Cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441667)

I'm guessing the POTUS just might have the resources to get an actual Personal Assistant to handle all of the functions of a PDA.

Plus, Personal Assistants are issued with Presidential kneepads. PDA has another meaning [giggle]
 

Left Behind (1)

rudy1066 (1277056) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441085)

I have to take issue with the idea that having someone keep track of the device would prevent it from being left behind. After all, if the Nuclear Football or launch codes have been be left behind or lost at least four times [bbc.co.uk], then the Presidential Blackberry could just as well slip out of a pocket in a crowd.

This is ridiculous. (1)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441121)

I am sure the previous presidents of the united states used cellphones and laptops. This is no different by the combination of the two. What exactly are those security experts hired for anyway? They are suppose to enable usage of tools while preserving security, not by telling their boss what he can't do. They are getting paid big bucks for resolving the headaches, not creating them. Any incompetent fool can suggest not to use a particular solution, the competent IT workers get things done without disrupting the service.

Re:This is ridiculous. (3, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441263)

I am sure the previous presidents of the united states used cellphones and laptops. This is no different by the combination of the two. What exactly are those security experts hired for anyway?

They are hired to know gems like this: All data transferred via BlackBerry devices is encrypted and travels through RIM â(TM)s central server in Canada [74.125.95.132].

Re:This is ridiculous. (1)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441417)

yet they don't have enough sense to contact RIM to have them submit the specs and code review for configuring government only blackberry servers that our government has full control of and enable the blackberries in government to use that server? RIM would jump on that opportunity for the most powerful man to serve as a walking billboard.

Re:This is ridiculous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441557)

I am sure the previous presidents of the united states used cellphones and laptops.I'm sure not ALL the previous presidents used them, only the last few. For Clinton the laptop wasn't a problem 'cause he only used it to surf porn sites, and for "W" it wasn't a problem 'cause he only used it to visit sesamestreet.com. Bush senior... well, he had enough sense to be careful about it. Before that, the civilian technology wasn't really there yet, so they were using military devices anyway.

Why? (0, Redundant)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441181)

Why does the president need a blackberry? Doesn't he have more important things to do than write emails and call people? Won't he have a secretary to do all that for him?

Re:Why? (1)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441251)

What more important things to do than write emails and call people?

Seriously, what do you think the president's job is? How do you think he keeps in contact with his cabinet and thus stay on top of domestic and world events? How do you think he visits other countries' leaders? By just showing up at their door steps?

Think of the president as a project manager, except on the grand scale, then, you will understand.

Re:Why? (1)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441435)

Doesn't he have more important things to do than write emails and call people? Won't he have a secretary to do all that for him?

Barbara, is that you?

WTF? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441193)

It's a cell phone.
It's his property.
He can do whatever the fuck he wants with it.

I fucking hate the media for creating this fucking non-issue.

Why was this not an issue when he was a senator?

As long as he keeps his black berry for personal use only, it's fine. If it's for official use as well, then they should implement some basic security both inside and outside the device, just as you would with a the President's computer, his plane, his car, his (land line) phone, and his dog.

Obama the person is not always Obama the President. Every single thing he says, types, does, etc. does not need to be logged, filed, and splooged over. Maybe the guy wants to take a minute to troll slashdot while sitting on the can. Maybe he wants to post a message to his daughter's village in Animal Crossing.

Where's that AC with the post about eating Obama's turd?

Yeah, right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441199)

...the answer to that surely depends on the subject matter or recipient. Email to his Chicago friends - why not?

Such latitude all of the sudden. Only months ago Bush was a criminal of the highest order because non-official email accounts were being used. What for? Doesn't matter, there aren't any exceptions... Obama uses a PDA? Well now, subject matter, recipients... well I'll be, look at all this gray area! Obviously no possibility of abuse. Oh no.

Frankly this is all bullshit. Just because a bunch of tort lawyers have you convinced that there is something wrong with private communications doesn't mean it's true. Corporate emails, private communications among politicians... none of it should be exposed beyond the originators wishes regardless of what you and your nanny state rulers want. They're going to stick your own fucking rules on you one day.

Problem is using celluar signal to bomb him (1)

blazespinnaker (967724) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441275)

Let's be serious. The secret service could care less about the info security. They're a lot more concerned about the fact that they have all these guys who are sitting ducks because 'Renegade' insists on carrying a homing device with him wherever he goes. I think the solution is to tell the world he's carrying a blackberry but then carry some custom device which is built on radio.

Re:Problem is using celluar signal to bomb him (1)

KevinKnSC (744603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441609)

but then carry some custom device which is built on radio.

What sort of magic do you think the BlackBerry uses to communicate, if not radio?

GPS tracking? (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441289)

The BlackBerry is a cell phone... isn't there a law that cell phones must be able to be located, within a few hundred feet, for EMS purposes?

I am sure the secret service would love to have the president tracked by his phone carrier.

Murphy's Law (1)

caffiend666 (598633) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441323)

I think techies ought to appreciate this, it's entirely Murphy's Law. If he can lose it, he will. A great example is that once Bill Clinton walked out on a check. (Might have been after he was out of office) He just assumed someone else had it. A reporter picked it up. That reporter managed to make a name for himself by covering a $20 tab. Now, imagine if a reporter got ahold of Obama's blackberry. I'm sure the reporter would return it, eventually....

Unless people believe Obama is incapable of getting distracted....

Then again, I'm pretty sure he could ask RIM for a blackberry with a thumb scan and get one custom made....

Regarding security and archiving (3, Interesting)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441341)

I must be missing something big, but isn't the point of a Blackberry the fact that everything goes through a $business-controlled server? One that can nuke the device from orbit whenever the admin says so? One that stores all the data securely?

I thought that's pretty much why RIM was able to get Blackberries into so many businesses - they could just buy a server that would integrate with their stuff and keep it all safe.

I'd actually be upset if he wasn't using a blackberry, but a less-secure cellphone

Or am I way off the mark for some reason, and why?

It's not about losing it or archiving messages (2, Insightful)

tcampb01 (101714) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441399)

It's about the fact that it can be 'tracked' -- just as the US has used cellphone tracking to hunt down bad-guys overseas, they can do the same thing to us if they know what cellphone we have.

It's not about the 'archival' of data. The Blackberry taps into YOUR traditional mail infrastructure. If you back it up, then your messages are archived.

No, it's more about the fact that an external company is granted access (usually via VPN) to your internal network (or at least part of it) and, more specifically, they get to keep a copy of your authentication credentials (so they can watch your new mail arrive, copy it, and delivery it to your device). Allowing a 3rd party company VPN access to a US government network with the Whitehouse mail server and, oh by the way, a copy of the president's username and password... well NOW maybe you can understand why they're nervous about security.

Frankly it would be better if he were addicted to an iPhone. At least with that solution you can host your email on any IMAP compliant mail server you want and nobody but you needs a copy of your security certificates, VPN gateway access, or username & passwords.

transparency (1)

toby (759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441459)

whether the president can afford to put things in writing that will likely be exposed by courts and archivists later

Do you really WANT a leader who would write anything that should not be 'exposed'??

I thought you Americans were supposed to be against totalitarian government. Apparently not; you voted it in several times and appear to have learned nothing by it.

Re:transparency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441545)

We're working hard to join the rest of the world on that one, but we don't want THAT much totalitarian government, just partitalitarian.

Left Behind Impossible? Remember the football! (1)

Kagato (116051) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441477)

Sure, just add an employee to look after the blackberry? Really? It's just that simple? Nixon, Ford, Carter, Bush and Clinton have all left behind the Nuclear Football at events.

Not fully understanding the concerns... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441489)

The OP doesn't seem to actually understand the concerns. First of all, information sent and received from a device like a blackberry is hardly secure. They can't very well risk having confidential information absent-mindedly entered into a note on a phone or very private numbers/emails stuck in a phone book. Beyond someone physically getting a hold of the phone, it's entirely possible for the device to be accessed via blue tooth and such, which he could turn on just tinkering with the thing.

On the note of record retention. Records passed to and from officials can meet all kinds of retention laws. They don't have to be about top secret government business to need to be retained forever. In fact, many records that are deemed to be kept forever are actually public record, that have to be presentable upon request. So if he sends a message about making a plan for business (IE asking someone to come to a meeting), depending on the context, it could be a matter of public record forever. If his phone is destroyed and the document wasn't backed up, he would be screwed as soon as a court asked for his copy.

No Exceptions.. Thats the rule. (3, Interesting)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441505)

Hey, Come on... We are people at SLASHDOT... That used to mean "technology folks" that were usually involved in security, technology, and BOFH's... The RULE IS: NO Personal Communications Device. NO exceptions. Sorry you don't like the rules, Now enforce it. I think that is in the BOFH Rule book someplace.

If he can't live with this rule, what about the rest? What are we to think if he constantly considers himself "above the law?" This is just a start of the trend that eventually leads to corruption. (IF it already isn't so.)

Besides, All you might need is a laser and bounce it off of the screen when he's using it and anyone could read it... (oops, wrong tech? Does that work for LCD's?)

Presidents and Personal Communications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441509)

The problem is just this: If the president sends a private communication to a friend or relative, he is required to pay for it himself, and also pay for the security required or the security response needed to safeguard those friends or relatives if there is a leak. Security does not take credit, and if the security budget is expended they are required to work for free, which can cause problems not only for dependents of those security workers, but for the administration itself if it cannot allocate or justify more funds. I wouldn't want to see a Patriot Act II just so the prez could pay for his blackberry security leak messes.

Is it that easy? (1)

AdamTrace (255409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441523)

"Somebody just has to be given the job of keeping track of the president's personal communication device."

That's it? THAT'S the best solution?

Is there a fallback plan if the person whose job it is makes a mistake? Or is this a job for someone who never makes mistakes?

Re:Is it that easy? (1)

AdamTrace (255409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441565)

More...

There's simply only one method of operations: Cell phones and PDA's WILL get lost or stolen.

If you don't plan on that eventuality, you're sticking your head in the sand.

State Govt. requires Blackberry... (3, Informative)

Xerolooper (1247258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441533)

Working for a state agency I am required to use a Blackberry vs. a smartphone or other PDA. This is suppossedly because it is more secure and has an encryption password built in that will wipe the phone if lost.

Courts (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441589)

. As for the legal question of whether the president can afford to put things in writing that will likely be exposed by courts and archivists later

Shouldn't we encourage the president to be doing anything that will make it easier for courts to know what he's up to? If the courts are interested in what's on his Blackberry, it means he's suspected of something serious, and we as citizens should want to make sure the court gets all the information about it as they can.

This got me thinking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26441617)

At my current job, all e-mail entering, leaving, and within the organization are public record. Anyone can file a public records request and get all my outgoing and incoming e-mail, with confidential information redacted.

I can check my personal e-mail from work over an SSL connection. I can receive text messages on my personal cell phone. I don't do work stuff with my personal phone and e-mail, and I don't do personal stuff with my work phone and e-mail.

So I get elected President of the United States. I exchange text messages with my wife, friends, and family. I have a personal e-mail account at some vanilla hosting provider. Do I have to save all of this and turn it over when I leave office? Or is it considered personal, just like how now, my personal e-mail isn't public record?

Let's hope he's not using a Mac (1)

Apostata (390629) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441623)

RIM's support for OSX is hideously outdated. It's basically a set of bandage solutions so that you can do the minimum amount of syncing and media management...but not at the same time.

As per the legal angle... (2, Interesting)

likerice (1046554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441651)

It's not nearly that simple. Putting aside the issue of self-control, there are also many instances in which a President would want to deny ever having *received* a certain message, which is much harder to do when you check your email yourself on your Barackberry. Look at how easy it was for Bush and his senior staff to deny having received credible intelligence about a potential attack on 9/11. Had that intelligence been sent to him via email, and had he received that message on a blackberry, his administration would have been dead and buried years ago.

If... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26441669)

...the President elected to represent his/her nation cannot afford (even with secret court hearings and time-restricted public expoosure - often in the 50-100 year region) to communicate something that might be read by another person, one should not start by asking whether they can afford to write it down. Rather, they should start by asking why such communication is taking place at all. If, even in 100 years, a Presidental instruction is too hot for the nation to handle, long after all people involved and/or targeted are dead and buried (or, at least, dead and in cryogenic storage in Area 51), then perhaps that instruction should never be issued at all.

(If ultra-secure agencies regard 100 years as too short a time, add a 150-year rule, or a 200-year rule. The point is that future administrations may need that information for reasons of national security or national interest, and indeed are far more likely to do so to a far greater degree than any individual could possibly need to avoid personal criticism for recklessness and stupidity. Indeed, archivists are a vital ingredient in the prevention of recklessness and stupidity, whether that information is ever made available to the general public or not.)

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