Obama faces BlackBerry withdrawal

Despite being a class-A CrackBerry addict, Barack Obama will likely be forced to go cold turkey from email when he takes office, The Times' Jeff Zeleney reports.In addition to concerns about e-mail security, he faces the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review, and the threat of subpoenas.

Despite being a class-A CrackBerry addict, Barack Obama will likely be forced to go cold turkey from email when he takes office, The Times' Jeff Zeleney reports.

In addition to concerns about e-mail security, he faces the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review, and the threat of subpoenas. A decision has not been made on whether he could become the first e-mailing president, but aides said that seemed doubtful.

Even so, he still hopes to keep a laptop on the Oval Office desk, which would be a first.

Being forced to give up email would be hard on Obama, whose BlackBerry fairly crackled with incoming messages of advice and outgoing thoughts from the candidate himself. He used email to break through the isolation of the campaign and to conduct campaign business. But when it comes to the presidence, he follows in the footsteps of George W. Bush, who sent this send-off message from G94B@aol.com:

Since I do not want my private conversations looked at by those out to embarrass, the only course of action is not to correspond in cyberspace. This saddens me. I have enjoyed conversing with each of you.
But Diana Owen, who leads the American Studies program at Georgetown University, says the security risks make it essentially impossible for presidents to stay online.
They could come up with some bulletproof way of protecting his e-mail and digital correspondence, but anything can be hacked. The nature of the president’s job is that others can use e-mail for him.