updated 12:07 pm EST, Thu December 5, 2013
Obama sticks with BlackBerry due to security risks
President Barack Obama's administration is likely the most tech savvy the United States has seen, but the Commander in Chief can't rely on the best selling smartphone in the world for personal use. In a summit at the White House today, Obama revealed that he cannot use an iPhone for official business due to "security reasons." The President still uses a BlackBerry in the course of his daily duties, but even that device is quite limited in what it can be used for.
Obama's revelation came in the course of defending the ailing-but-improving healthcare.gov portal for the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges. Obama referenced the iPhone in order to point out the typical monthly cost of such a device in comparison to the monthly cost of a health insurance plan through one of the exchanges.
"Now, for security reasons, I am not allowed to have an iPhone," Obama said to chuckles from the audience. "I don't know what your bills are. I have noticed that [Obama's daughters] Sasha and Malia seem to spend a lot of time on it. My suspicion is that for a lot of you, between your cable bill, your phone bill, you're spending more than a hundred bucks a month. The idea that you wouldn't want to make sure that you've got the health security and financial security that comes with health insurance for less than that price, uh, you guys are smarter than that."
Instead, of an iPhone, Obama relies on a BlackBerry, and the President has had such a device since before he was inaugurated in 2009. Before and after his inauguration, Obama wrestled with the Secret Service over the handheld, with the protection agency holding that the BlackBerry constituted a security risk. It could, perhaps, be used to give away his location if it were hacked. Also, there was the concern that anything the President wrote on the device could be used against the administration in a congressional investigation.
Obama, though, resisted the call to give up his handheld. He eventually won out over the Secret Service, and the President can often be seen pecking away at the device in public and while in transit. The President is able to contact very few people through the device, and only a small list of senior officials and personal friends have access to his personal email address. The White House, according to AFP, says that there are additional encryption devices covering Obama's communications, though they declined to elaborate.
Despite Obama's revelation, Apple's iPhone has gone on to see greater adoption in governmental communications. Earlier this year, the Department of Defense began testing mobile devices, including the iPhone, for use on its secure servers. [Lead image via Getty Images]