Why Obama will lose his BlackBerry

Regardless of RIM assurances, BlackBerry can't be secure enough. Can any president stand to have an electronic trail of every message?
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

OK, so why can't Obama keep his BlackBerry? Two reasons: security and the Presidential Records Act, The New York Times relates.

Isn't it the case that BlackBerry transmission are encrypted and the device can be wiped remotely, if need be? Yes, but:

Mr. Obama would be an extraordinarily juicy target for hackers, spies and other snoops who could try to exploit any kind of error made in configuring the device or the White House BlackBerry server to read Mr. Obama’s e-mail.

Bruce Schneier, an expert on encryption and security, does not believe that the security systems at R.I.M. — or at any other company — are completely safe, because of the inherent limitations of the humans who design and use them. “If the BlackBerry was completely secure, it would be the first time in the history of mankind,” Mr. Schneier said.

Then there's the positioning data: Could an assassin track Obama's whereabouts via the phone's signal to towers?

It is technically possible that someone with access to a cellphone company’s systems could use those contacts to roughly track Mr. Obama’s movements, although this would not be easy.

Perhaps the simple matter of passwords and physical control of the device would be enough to justify taking away his BlackBerrry.

Obama noted that D.C. is full of lawyers. And those lawyers are concerned that BlackBerry emails would be subject to laws requiring preservation of presidential communications.

"In this day of inevitable investigations, any time you have written documentation of what the president is saying on any particular subject, then in that investigation, these records may be requested and could be obtained,” said Elizabeth A. McNamara, a lawyer at Davis Wright Tremaine in New York. “Then you’ve got the president in the thick of it."

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