Washington After facing down his top security advisers, President Barack Obama won the right Thursday to be the BlackBerry user-in-chief.
Under an arrangement with security aides, Obama will get a new BlackBerry loaded with software approved by U.S. intelligence officials that lets him communicate with friends, family and close associates without fear of hackers reading his private e-mail.
Obama’s decision to keep the device underscores his devotion to technology in the face of such issues as public access to presidential correspondence.
Former President George W. Bush gave up personal e-mail upon entering office, fearing he would create a public record with every touch of the “send” button. Bill Clinton has been reported to avoid e-mail even today.
“With all due respect to Presidents Clinton and Bush, they didn’t really grow up with these mobile devices,” said Roger Entner, a telecommunications analyst with the Nielsen Company. “President Obama is like so many others of his generation: This is the device that helps determine how he perceives the rest of the world.”
In that sense, e-mail could preserve for Obama some of what his job automatically precludes: direct contact with the work-a-day world. He has been adamant about keeping that link, telling news outlets this month, “I’m still clinging to my BlackBerry. They’re going to pry it out of my hands.”