Monday, November 17, 2008

No e-mail, no BlackBerry for the President Elect

Barack Obama's BlackBerry has been his constant companion. He uses it to keep in touch with old friends, stay abreast of current events, and receive updates from his staff. Apparently, it's been instrumental in keeping him connected to the larger world and ensuring that his aides aren't filtering information in an overly aggressive manner.

Not any more:
. . . . Before he arrives at the White House, he will probably be forced to sign off. In addition to concerns about e-mail security, he faces the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review, and the threat of subpoenas. A decision has not been made on whether he could become the first e-mailing president, but aides said that seemed doubtful.
As the article makes plain, the most serious issues surrounding the President Elect's use of e-mail, even in a read-only manner, are related to security; the hacking of a Presidential e-mail account could have profoundly damaging repercussions. However, as the New York Times points out, there are records issues at stake. Let's hope that, in the event that the President Elect keeps his BlackBerry, he doesn't follow in the footsteps of White House staffers who sought to evade the Presidential Records Act and the Hatch Act by using non-governmental e-mail accounts to conduct government business--or in those of the governors of Alaska, Missouri (hat-tip: Angry Black Bitch), and New York State, all of whom adopted a similar approach to e-mail management.

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