What the president wants, the president gets, and Barack Obama wants to be the first smartphone-packing president in U.S history. Obama, who had to give up his beloved BlackBerry after his January inauguration for security reasons, is about to get a new, secured BlackBerry.
According to the Washington Times, Obama will be given a BlackBerry 8830 that has been retooled by the National Security Agency with heavy duty encryption software developed by Genesis Key of Washington. The company’s Type 1 encryption is touted for use in clandestine operations, diplomatic and military scenarios.
The presidential smartphone will be used in and around the White House and during Obama’s official travel. The president will be able to send text messages, e-mails and make phone calls to others who similarly secured BlackBerrys. Top aides and Michelle Obama are expected to be issued the devices, which should be ready for use in several months.
In the meantime, Obama has not been exactly off the grid. Since inauguration day, Obama has been using an undisclosed BlackBerry that must be plugged into another device known as the Sectera Edge, developed by General Dynamics. The plug-in device was originally developed for the National Security Agency and comes with Secure Communications Interoperability Protocol and the High Assurance Internet Protocol Encryptor Interoperability specification.
Pundits immediately dubbed Obama’s device the “BarackBerry.”
Even with the new BlackBerry, Obama’s e-mail will be subject to the Presidential Records Act, which requires the National Archives to preserve presidential records, although the law allows Obama’s communications be kept from the public during his presidency.