January 8th, 2009
11:54 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama not giving up BlackBerry without a fight

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/08/art.obamabb.gi.jpg caption="Obama is finding it difficult to give up his BlackBerry."](CNN) - Barack Obama faces a host of challenges when he assumes the Oval Office later this month, but the hardest personally for the president-elect might just be relinquishing his cherished BlackBerry.

Those who follow Obama on a regular basis know the president-elect is constantly on the addictive e-mail device. But the Secret Service, as well as Obama lawyers, are concerned it could easily be hacked and are demanding the new president hand over the BlackBerry before he moves into the White House.

But in an interview with CNBC Wednesday, Obama made clear he's not giving it up without a fight.

"They're going to pry it out of my hands," the president-elect said.

"You know, this town's full of lawyers. I don't know if you've noticed...and they have a lot opinions. And so I'm still in a scuffle around that, but it–look, it's the hardest thing about being president. How do you stay in touch with the flow of everyday life," he added.

The Secret Service also made President Bush give up e-mail when he assumed the presidency, and former President Clinton, during whose term e-mail became widely-used, sent a grand total of two e-mails while president - one as a test to see if it worked and the second to former Sen. and astronaut John Glenn before he went back into space in 1998.

But in the interview Wednesday, Obama suggested keeping his BlackBerry is one way he could stay connected to the real world.

"I've got to look for every opportunity to do that – ways that aren't scripted, ways that aren't controlled, ways where, you know, people aren't just complimenting you or standing up when you enter into a room, ways of staying grounded," he said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (502 Responses)
  1. frodo

    I love my BB. But Obama shouldn't need one...he's going to be POTUS! If he wants info he just needs to ask. If he wants to send or receive email, just tell his secretary to do it.

    The problem with cell phones and especially GPS enabled BB is that they can track you within feet of your location. This is a HUGE security risk for a president. Imagine China, North Korea or any other State hacking and tracking the president.

    Or what if someone hacked a way to connect a call to his phone without ringing it? they could listen to any conversations...or as you all have had the accidental call where someone dials you without knowing and is in a conversation or just doing life's normal activities leaving you, the unsuspecting recipient of a long voicemail with potentially juicy information...

    This is something he should be able to do without.

    January 8, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  2. Virginia

    Hey Barack–don't you know that since you have been elected Prez, you can't have a regular "everyday life" anymore. Reality check, dude. Everything you do from now on will be under constant scrutiny and remember, if you know how to use a Blackberry, other world leaders do too. They have this technology all over the world. Come on fellow, wake up and smell the coffee (that will perked and brought to you on a silver tray EVERY morning for the next four years!).

    January 8, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. FreeNLovIt

    Yes, it's sad but it's the truth. If he wants Osama Bin Laden to check his text messages, he can keep texting. Meanwhile, can pigeons be used?

    January 8, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. AA

    Firstly, Bbberry encryption is some of the best out there and that is why companies use it.

    So if they have encryption for cell phones and land lines why not added encryption for the blackberry?

    Oh wait those Canadians cannot be trusted!

    Forget it, get the man to give up his bberry

    January 8, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. Byron McLaughlin

    If its safehe should keep his blackberry. As he says he need to stay in touch with the "real" world. With all the super technoligies we have I don't understand why his blackberry cannot be made safe and my profession is IT?

    January 8, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  6. Diing

    Remember, the Detroit Mayor? Man, bb can be so detrimental. Keep it but be aware all information is kept.

    January 8, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. AA

    Last point. Those of you that don't have a blackberry will never understand and those that have one can totally relate to Obama

    January 8, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. gregg45

    I can hear the boots on penn ave and just see the arms of his followers in the air,,, do what I SAY... NOW...or the american recovery act will not include , all lets just say it here,,, anyone who does not conform with the messiahs way,,, jim jones ... too bad u aint alive to see your dream come true... blind sheep following the wolf ,, as a former democrat,, i gregg ,, hope not to hear those boots on my front porch one nite at 3 in the morn,,, but i am sure i will hear his sheep bleating

    January 8, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. Kyle

    It's time our government moved into the 21st century. Every CEO in the world has a PDA. It's ridiculous that the leader of the most powerful nation in the world wouldn't have one. It's not about being a tech-junkie, it's about communication, something you older folks wouldn't understand.

    January 8, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. To each his own

    Sounds like he's clinging to his cigarettes and Blackberrys...

    January 8, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  11. Patti in Dallas

    Wow, the way it sounds is that the POTUS is the only high-ranking U.S. official who shouldn't carry a Blackberry because the White House IT dept can't guarantee that it will be secure. What does that say about ALL high-ranking U.S. officials?...are any of them carrying a Blackberry? And do any of them use it for work purposes, perhaps sending/receiving/reviewing nat'l security-level info? Aren't ALL handheld devices by more nitty-gritty-focused federal folks more at risk than the POTUS?

    I think he needs to be able to keep it and they need to deal with it. He will be a 21st century president, why knock him back to the 1980's? They need to find a way to secure it or at least to allow him to keep it for personal life contact with the outside world. I agree, no nat'l security info, but texting or emailing with family & friends and checking news headlines – that is "real world" contact independent of any potential "yes" people/bubble around him.

    January 8, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  12. Brian

    For safety reasons I think he should give it up too, but I do understand where he's coming from. Anyone with a smartphone knows that thing becomes an extension of you and keeps you connected to everything around the clock.

    January 8, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  13. Clifford Vegas

    I am sympathetic to Prez Obama – productive people like the BB because it forces fast and succinct communication. Proves to me that this man is well-grounded and pragmatic; that he intends to be ACCESSIBLE – which is a brilliant change from the previous occupant of the WH.

    January 8, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. Simone

    Obama says he wants to stay in the flow of everyday life.
    What a crock. How many "everyday life" people have his email address so he can stay in touch with voters.
    He will be "isolated and removed" just like every president before him and he will very quickly lose touch with the reality of life as others live it.
    He will lose this blackberry fight like all the future battle he'll lose.
    Bye Bye Obama. Step into the White House and you step out of reality.
    This entire pampered president system has to change.

    January 8, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. Sherry

    We sent men to the Moon; and we can't figure out a way for the President to keep his Blackberry in a secured manner?

    January 8, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Anonymous

    yup, he should give up his blackberry...and switch to an IPhone

    January 8, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  17. David

    Maybe if "W" had been allowed a Blackberry he wouldn't have been so out of touch – Oh wait, you have to actually know how to use a Blackberry*

    I also agree with the previous comment, the President is the boss... let the security people get together with the technical people along with RIM and figure it out.

    January 8, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. Katelyn

    Seriously?! This is the 21st Century for god's sake! I"m sure that if someone wanted to hack into anything it wouldn't be his PERSONAL BLACKBERRY!! What would be the point of that? Now I know that Secret Service is just doing their job in keeping our new President safe but GET REAL!! I don't see any police going around confiscating blackberries from the citizens to keep us safe! Let him keep his blackberry! There's no REAL reliable reason not to!!

    January 8, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  19. Jeff in Illinois

    Just had to comment on Doug from the Joe the Plumber article:

    Doug, I live in one of the bluest of blue states, Illinois, and I haven't seen ONE bumper sticker anything like what you are talking about! Also, of the Republicans I know, a few of them are racist, and a handful are anti-Constitution Bush fanatics. However, zero of the hundreds of Democrats I know would ever strap on a bomb to suicide bomb a "Conservative" (meaning liberal-spending, government-control-of-personal-life, hate-mongering maniacs) radio station.

    Methinks someone is HIGHLY delusional. Must be from listening to too much drug-addled conservative talk radio.

    January 8, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. bj, Texas

    How else is he going to be able to keep in touch with Blago, Airs, Wright and all his secret corrupt friends. Does he have something to hide?

    January 8, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  21. Sandy in Racine

    He is the president-elect for goodness sake! He should be allowed to keep his blackberry. Maybe the opposition should get hip and get there own. There are ways to set up a confidential account, I know I use my blackberry this way. You go Barack.

    January 8, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  22. curious

    country and our safety goes first, than beloved addictions.....I understand it is painful for him, but we all have to make some sacrifices. Security people know their job.

    January 8, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  23. hawkeye

    He is smart enough to use it in a way that will not expose himself or others. Get over it folks, you are not dealing with an idiot this time around.

    January 8, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  24. aliou

    Way to go man!!!!

    January 8, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. Majestic Warrior

    I say let him keep it. I'm sure the govt has much of the technology that can make his blackberry secure, and for once – we need a grounded president. If the blackberry keeps him in touch with the American people, etc. then that's great.

    January 8, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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