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Solving Obama's BlackBerry Dilemma 374

Posted by kdawson
from the first-personal-communicator dept.
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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Solving Obama's BlackBerry Dilemma

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  • research in motion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jfrdtrtyvyui (1221434) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:01PM (#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.
    • by retech (1228598) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:04PM (#26440875)
      As if they'd never recoup that in the copious amount of free adverts they've already received?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by davester666 (731373)

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jcenters (570494)
          The money would be well worth it. We're in the Information Age, and presidents can't be cut off from the world forever. Someone has to keep them connected, and it might as well be RIM. That equals a fat government contract for many years to come.
          • by Firehed (942385) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @01:10AM (#26444243) Homepage

            Very true, though I don't think it really matters what company does it provided the security is set up properly. As TFS mentions, the public record thing is really the main issue. However,

            Email to his Chicago friends â" 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.

            Seems like it would be the other way around to me - I certainly wouldn't want _my_ personal communications becoming part of the public record for the rest of eternity. Of course there's certain issues of practicality of internal secrets going into the public record, but past /. discussions have suggested using some sort of proxy-type person where it would go through someone who would email the president with a "new message from X about Y - would you like to receive it knowing that the communication will become part of the public record" type of message.

            Or maybe the laws regarding this kind of stuff are stupid. Seems that personal stuff should remain personal, and that anything @whitehouse.gov would go into the archives, but the president (and related staff) would be legally required to use the appropriate address and that the personal account(s) could be audited during the presidency to ensure that no funny business is taking place.

            Dunno. But considering that Obama probably wouldn't have taken the top job were it not for all of the internet-based efforts, it would be Pretty Fucking Stupid to cut him off.

            • by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunity&yahoo,com> on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @01:27AM (#26444371) Homepage

              IMO, the whole thing is bullshit.

              I think everything the president does should be recorded in a place where judicial or legislative review can occur. Obviously only certain people should have access, such as federal judges, the SCOTUS and a senate committee or two. And yes, I mean even for national secret type stuff. It is the responsibility of the executive branch to fulfill obligations set forth by laws enacted by the legislative branch and in accordance with decisions by the judicial branch. If there is no transparency, there is tyranny.

              Just think how interesting it would be to read emails between Bush/Cheney & the Justice Dept. regarding interrogation techniques, or the prelude to invading Iraq, or the events surrounding 9/11(still a gazillion unanswered questions). If a bipartisan senate committee had access to that information, I bet Bush would have been impeached quickly.

              • I wonder if you'd feel the same way about Bill Clinton's video tape of Monica giving him a BJ while on the phone with a foreign dignitary, especially after he shook his finger at America and said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky".

                The whole rant of the left about "Bush lied, people died" crap is just a smoke screen. If lying is bad, it doesn't matter what the result is. Pointing to someone else's wrong is not an excuse for the wrongs you do.

                Oh, BTW, There is more evidence that

    • by topham (32406) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:06PM (#26440893) Homepage

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

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:10PM (#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. :-)

        • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:13PM (#26440983) Journal

          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 ;)

          • by saforrest (184929) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:20PM (#26441075) Homepage Journal

            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]!

            • by Shakrai (717556)

              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 ;)

              • by geobeck (924637) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:08PM (#26441631) Homepage

                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.

                • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:48PM (#26441999) Journal

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

                  Nah, she's too busy protecting both of our countries from Putin. There's 12 other US States that share a border with Canada. I suspect that their Governors are the ones busy keeping an eye on you Canucks so don't get any ideas ;)

          • by DittoBox (978894)

            Take off, eh! Ya hoser!

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Kippesoep (712796)
          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: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Kleen13 (1006327)
          I'll be waiting.... gimme a couple days notice and I'll start icing the Keg. I'm sure the troops are thirsty.
      • by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:47PM (#26442663) Journal
        The one major issue with thi... RIM is a foreign company.

        Depends on your point of view. From where I sit, it is a domestic company and a foreign president.
    • by rolfwind (528248)

      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]

    • by JWSmythe (446288) * <jwsmythe@[ ]mythe.com ['jws' in gap]> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:19PM (#26441057) Homepage Journal

      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

      • by Xaoswolf (524554) <Xaoswolf@gma i l .com> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:19PM (#26441751) Homepage Journal
        The Federal Government uses a ton of Blackberrys. The president just seems to be a special case. I don't see why they can't just activate him on an Enterprise Server and have every single thing locked down on it. Hell, they can require a 20 digit password to unlock it so if he does lose it, they have time to do a remote wipe from the server. Of course, after 10 incorrect password tries, the device will automatically wipe itself anyways.
        • by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:57PM (#26442119)

          If he were not (wisely) choosing his fights, he could simply order it. He is not subordinate to the advisers who don't want him using a Blackberry. In fact, he could replace them if he wanted -- he could even eliminate their positions. The President has a great deal of authority, very little of it subject to the opinion of anyone else.

        • by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robert AT chromablue DOT net> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:58PM (#26442131)
          Seriously? Do you think that if a foreign/hostile agent or power ever got the "First BlackBerry", they'd be so crude as to attempt a couple of passwords, have it lock, and say "aww, shit, there goes our chance"?
    • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dolphinzilla (199489)

      first off, they are already quite well encrypted, second it would never be used for any type of classified e-mail or messaging, if by some massive waste of taxpayers dollars the NSA were to be engaged to approve a crackberry for processing Secret and above data it would not be allowed on the regular internet and would thus be useless for anything else - despite what some may say, workable multilevel security systems are many years away - as far as secure erasure THAT is in the realm of possible today and y

    • by HiVizDiver (640486) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @10:07PM (#26442873)
      Well, the self-destruct feature is easy, I already have one on my Crackberry. I just open an HTML e-mail. BOOM.
  • The Sectera Edge (Score:3, Informative)

    by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:02PM (#26440845) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:03PM (#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.

    • by CannonballHead (842625) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:09PM (#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.

      • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:19PM (#26441063) Journal

        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.

        • by CannonballHead (842625) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:52PM (#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])

          • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:51PM (#26442027) Journal

            That said, I think NPR (not sure if that is necessarily the same as PBS though) is decidedly biased as well.

            I disagree. I think they've gone out of their way to show both sides of the argument even if one side has a pretty absurd argument that isn't even grounded in reality. I've seen them piss off both Liberals and Conservatives and tend to believe the old adage that you are probably doing something right if everybody is unhappy ;)

            And I might add, NPR did cover the dog story on "All Things Considered." (Online here. [npr.org])

            Hmm, I hadn't heard that. At least they only devoted 2 minutes and 46 seconds to it though. How much time has CNN devoted?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dangitman (862676)

        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 longe

        Well, President Bush owning an iPod was as much "big news" as this, and the Bushes aren't shy of giving their dogs media coverage. In fact, First Pets are usually well-covered and adored by the media. So, what's changed? Nothing that I can see. Heck, Laura bush recently gave a press conference on their choice of china sets for catering. Of course everything the Presidential family does will be scrutinized by the media (well, unless it's something like criminal corruption or war crimes, then they look the ot

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fm6 (162816)

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

        We've already beaten the device issue to death, but the dog issue isn't as trivial as all that. I have a niece who volunteers in animal rescue, and she's bloody thrilled at all the publicity the rescue movement is getting out of the First Dog. The fact that the Obamas are canvassing the shelters instead of the breeders will cause a lot of others to do the same, which could save thousands of animals from being euthanized.

        That's not a small thing. It's not the end of the recession or OBL's head on a pike, but

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Xaoswolf (524554)
        I'll go with the race card... I love my caucasianberry myself.
    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:15PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tlhIngan (30335)

      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 g

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:04PM (#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.

    • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:55PM (#26441481) Homepage Journal

      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by poot_rootbeer (188613)

        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.

        I think his decision at that moment said a lot about what his priorities would be as President: it was more important for his ass to be completely covered than it was to continue using the tools that would maximize his productivity.

        It will be interesting to see, eig

        • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:24PM (#26442413) Homepage Journal

          OK, I thoroughly despise Bush Jr. (was his final press conference pathetic or what?) but on this one issue you're being a little unfair. The CYA attitude is as old as bureaucracy and as the legal profession. Which, come to think of it, are not really different entities.

          A couple years ago I was called into a meeting at work. What was it about? Can't tell you, would violate my NDA. And if I did tell you, it would have to be from memory, because everybody in the meeting was to forbidden to take notes or to write email about what happened in the meeting.

          I'll bend the rules a bit, and tell you that it was a really, really trivial legal issue. No bodies were being buried, no careers were at stake. Many companies would have just told their lawyers, "Your problem, do whatever is necessary." But that costs money, and we didn't have money to burn. So we picked the most cost effective strategy, and that involved created an absolutely minimal paper trail.

          We were following advice that lawyers give their clients every day: minimize your exposure. That's the advice Bush's lawyers gave him 8 years ago, and that's the advice Obama's lawyers are giving him now. I like to think that Obama will ignore them in the name of open government. But he's a pragmatic guy, so he knows that making that kind of idealistic choice comes at a cost.

          Obama's something of an idealist; if he weren't, I wouldn't have voted for him. (I probably wouldn't have voted at all.) But he also knows that if he makes every decision on purely idealistic grounds he's going to have lots of Right Decisions and very little to show for it. Woodrow Wilson can tell you all about that.

          No doubt Bush thinks he's the same way: making the idealistic decision when he can, making the pragmatic decision when he has to. The difference is that what Bush considers to be his ideals are morally bankrupt, and his critical judgment fatally impaired.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

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

        Oh sorry. I'll disappear into a black hole of male-dominated language now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)

      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 gue

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by schnell (163007)

        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?

        Yes, I'll give you two. Because of that permanent stateful connection to RIM's NOC, your e-mail is pushed to the device automatically rather when needed. Your IMAP/SSL connection only checks on a regular schedule (whatever you set it to be) and that can be too often or not often enough. On top of that, it allows BlackBerries to communicate with each other via a unique PIN address so even if your mail server/BlackBerry Enterprise Server is slammed or out of commission, you can still communicate with any othe

  • 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. ;)
    -Tay

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:11PM (#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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by couchslug (175151)

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

      OK, you win. No more Obamanteaus.

    • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:41PM (#26441931) Homepage Journal

      I'm sorry, how is "President Elect" imaginary? It's a widely-used term, and everybody knows what it means. And BTW, it's been around for about three centuries, according to the OED.

      But even if it had been invented last year, it wouldn't be "imaginary", not if people are actually using it.

  • 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 b
  • 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 disruptin

  • 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.
  • 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 getti

  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@@@justconnected...net> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:43PM (#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 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, t

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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 o

  • by sjs132 (631745) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:58PM (#26441505) Homepage Journal

    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?)

  • "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?

    • by AdamTrace (255409)

      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.

  • by Xerolooper (1247258) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:00PM (#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.
  • . 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.

  • 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 adminis
  • by jd (1658)

    ...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/

  • A Good Sign (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:44PM (#26441965)

    I consider it a good sign that Barak Obama wants to keep his Blackberry. This, if anything, shows that he is willing to step up to a greater level of accessibility and responsibility. It is certainly a feather in his cap. Plus, I am sure RIM can develop a special Blackberry device that will allow Obama to safely have classified material transmitted to him.

  • by Quila (201335) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @10:00PM (#26442793)
    Simply because the press won't push it as a problem. Rove using RNC accounts for business? Palin using online mail? Major scandal. Obama using private accounts for government business? Don't worry about it, he likes his Blackberry.

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