Picking the Presidential Blackberry

It’s one of those pressing issues that hasn’t been resolved: Will Obama use a Blackberry? Some people, including our own beloved and widely respected Tech Beat blogger Steve Wildstrom, think the Cyber Prez should go right ahead - no need for the super-inconvenient super-encrypted package now subject to such a viral buzz on the Web. How sensitive, really, is what a president taps away at his keyboard? Perhaps hugely sensitive - at least so far as the lawyers and cybersecurity gurus might think. Or is the real problem concern among a leader’s lieutenants that handheld technology in the First Palm might allow underlings to leapfrog the proper chain of command? Either way, Obama has said that they’re going to have to pry it from his hands. We’ll see. Either way, this couldn’t have been better product placement for Blackberry-maker Research in Motion. Meanwhile, here’s what Wilstrom said on his blog about his options:

“News coverage of the fate of President Barack Obama’s BlackBerry has generated a lot more heat than light. What seemed the most definitive word, an Atlantic blog post by Marc Ambinder, only deepened the confusion with gobbledegook about a BlackBerry “superencryption package.” I don’t know if the President will keep his beloved BlackBerry or not, but I can cut through some of the confusion. U.S. government rules make a bright-line distinction between classified and unclassified communications, with the latter being subject to a set of complex and rigid requirements, many of them themselves classified. Any off-the-shelf BlackBerry, however, has U.S. government approval for the most secure level of unclassified communications, “sensitive but unclassified.” You can find an extensive discussion of BlackBerry’s security certification on the Research In Motion Web site.

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