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Technology / Networks

Obama ‘can always borrow one,’ says BlackBerry CEO

Research In Motion (RIM) Co-CEO and president Mike Lazaridis has said he is not surprised US President-elect Barack Obama could be forced to give up his BlackBerry when he begins work at the White House.

During his successful Presidential campaign Obama was rarely seen without his BlackBerry, whether it either was glued to his ear or sitting snugly is his hand as he scrolled through his emails.

However, the Presidential Records Act states that all correspondence must be available to the public through official records – meaning personal emails will be banned. There is also an added security risk with mobile devices as they can be tracked.

“This shouldn’t surprise anyone,” Mike Lazaridis told CBR. “The Presidential Records Act pretty much guarantees that once they take office, they have to give up email.”

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Outgoing President George W. Bush gave up email when he entered the White House, as did Bill Clinton before him. “There’s all kinds of very good legal reasons why the President and President-elect isn’t allowed to use email,” said Lazaridis. “It’s funny: You see The Oval Office all the time on TV; I wonder how many of us notice there’s no computer there?”

Whether Obama does eventually give up his BlackBerry – he recently told Barbara Walters on ABC News that he was negotiating with the secret service, lawyers and White House staff to enable him to communicate with people outside his immediate circle – the interest in the story has generated some very good headlines for RIM and BlackBerry, and Lazaridis is not too concerned.

“It shows you how important the BlackBerry is to people that use it! The good news is that the rest of the White House, The FBI, Congress, the Pentagon all use BlackBerrys, so it’s fine. I guess he could always borrow one at a pinch!”

This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.