President Obama, the most powerful man in the world, is stuck with cumbersome and faulty technology that might have been impressive half-a-decade ago. Ha ha, no, we’re not talking about Healthcare.gov. We’re talking about his bulky old BlackBerry jam-packed with extra security measures.
Yesterday in a speech at the White House, the President joked that the Secret Service doesn’t allow him to use an iPhone — even though his daughters Malia and Sasha are addicted to theirs.
“I’m not allowed for security reasons to have an iPhone,” he told a group of young people.
Let’s forget for a second that the president of the United States is poking around on a device made by a Canadian company that might not even be around in two years. BlackBerry, which admittedly doesn’t have much going for it these days, is still the device du jour for many politicians in Washington, thanks primarily to what’s thought to be its superior encryption standards.
Obviously, it would not look good for the White House if the president’s private emails, texts, GPS coordinates, and photos of Bo and Sunny were released to the world by hackers. But while BlackBerry has spent the last several years imploding, Apple and Google have made great, innovative strides toward making iPhone and Android software more secure.
So why is Obama still stuck with a BlackBerry?
One of the scarier possibilities, as Will Oremus at Slate notes, is that the government is aware of security vulnerabilities that the general population doesn’t know about:
The more sinister explanation is that U.S. security officials know of big holes in Apple’s privacy and security features — because the government itself has exploited them. For one thing, Apple was one of several major tech companies identified in leaked NSA documents as being part of the agency’s PRISM surveillance program. And while Apple has insisted that its users’ iMessages are secure, hackers have called those claims into question. [Slate]
Still, it isn’t entirely clearly why Obama’s protectors won’t allow him to have an iPhone. Which is kind of strange — considering he does get to use an iPad.