Obama will likely have to give up e-mail as president

The New York Times has an interesting story saying that, after taking office, Barack Obama will likely need to give up e-mailing, which the BlackBerry toting Senator and candidate has hitherto relied upon heavily.

The story says that any e-mails will be subject to later disclosure and even subpoena under the Presidential Records Act (passed in 1978).  Also, there are security concerns; e-mail is subject to interception and hacking, and it wouldn’t be much harder to send an e-mail from his account while impersonating him.  Additionally, he’s going to have a lot less time to be e-mailing and following everything on his BlackBerry soon.

The article gives some other details on how Obama, as well as George W. Bush and Al Gore, has stayed wired and connected.  He and his staff have yet to reach a final decision on whether he really will give up e-mail totally, just the outgoing variety, or not at all.

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1 comment so far

  1. omegamormegil on

    On the first hand, email security shouldn’t be an issue. There are a lot of options for really easy email encryption. Encryption serves to both prove the identify of who is sending an email, but also to prevent unauthorized people from eavesdropping. They could use GPG (GnuPrivacyGuard), which is completely free, uses extremely strong encryption, and can be implemented transparently in many email clients. For more, visit these links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Privacy_Guard https://help.ubuntu.com/community/GnuPrivacyGuardHowto

    On the other hand, what are the Presidents doing that they are so terrified of revealing? I’m sure the Presidential Records Act was put in place to provide some accountability for whatever the President was doing. Real matters of national security are one thing, but it sounds like the Presidents are much more concerned about the day to day operations stuff. Maybe I’m being naive, but shouldn’t an honest President have little concern about the perfectly legal day to day communications passing between him and his staff? The desire for privacy in personal communication with friends and family is certainly understandable, but perhaps this is something that must be set aside when holding our nation’s highest office.

    After all, abstaining from email and other forms of digital communication doesn’t mean the President doesn’t communicate, it only makes that communication easier to hide.


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