President Obama: Can't iPhone, won't iPhone

Summary:President Obama may be the most powerful man in the world (say some) but he's still not allowed an iPhone, due to Secret Service restrictions.

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(Image: White House/Flickr)

U.S. President Barack Obama may be the most famous person on the planet to use a BlackBerry. Despite the fall in the device's popularity, he's almost certainly stuck with it for the next three years.

According to an AFP story (via SecurityWeek), speaking to a group at the White House on Wednesday, the President admitted he is "not allowed" an iPhone "for security reasons."

This is in spite of the fact that his daughters Sasha and Malia spend a lot of time on their iPhones, he said.

Days after Obama was inaugurated in 2009, he reportedly battled with Secret Service to keep his BlackBerry — a fight he eventually won. There were concerns that foreign spies would be able to eavesdrop on his phone, in a way not too dissimilar to claims published earlier this year that the U.S. government spied on German chancellor Angela Merkel's BlackBerry device.

But even if he wanted an iPhone, according to earlier reports he wasn't able to use the smartphone when he was on the campaign trail for his second term in 2012. Even as an avid iPad user, he was befuddled by the dialing pad on the iPhone, which he was eventually able to navigate.

While iPhones have become increasingly popular and bolstered in security, they have still yet to convince the various U.S. government departments that they are fit for official business.

While BlackBerrys are known for their military-grade encryption, used by dozens of governments and major private companies around the world, the devices are losing luster among many consumers. The Ontario, Canada-based company recently announced its reaffirmation to the enterprise customer after taking a significant tumble in market share rankings.

iPhones, however, have yet to be classified as secure enough for government and military use for the level of security required by White House staff.

In May, older Apple mobile operating system iOS 6 was granted FIPS 140-2 certification , allowing low-level classified documents to be shared and access on iPhones and iPads. Not long after, iPhones and iPads were cleared by the U.S. Defense Dept. for U.S. military use.

But the devices alone aren't enough for the whole package.

Alas, while BlackBerry remains in a stagnant state with the hope it can turnaround in the coming fiscal quarters, the company remains the only smartphone and service provider to be given "authority to operate" on U.S. Defense Dept. networks .

Topics: Security, Apple, iPhone

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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