By Mark O’Neill
Contributing Writer, [GAS]
Out of all the things I’ve wondered about in life, one of them is whether Presidents, Prime Ministers and other heads of State can do private email and correspond privately with friends and family online. Putting aside whether they have the time to do it, the bigger questions are the practical, security, legal and logistical concerns. But this New York Times article is an excellent overview of the whole situation concerning what President-Elect Obama is facing when he takes office on January 20th.
Obama, apparently a big Blackberry fan, is going to have to give up his device because of the Presidential Records Act and of concerns over email security. He instead hopes to become the first US president to have a laptop on his desk in the Oval Office (what operating system will it have? Windows or Linux?!)
As the NYT article points out, President Bush stopped corresponding by private email because he was concerned that his private email correspondence might fall into the wrong hands and cause embarrassment. You only have to look at how a hacker broke into Governor Sarah Palin’s Yahoo account to know how much embarrassment can be brought upon a political figure with the contents of their email account. So as a politician (such as Obama) scales the vast political heights into the White House, ordinary things such as sending an email becomes an increasingly impossible task.
Then there’s the time factor. Presidents probably don’t have the time to do private email after 3.00am phone calls and saving the world.
But Obama is showing everyone that he is determined to change every rule that he encounters. So he may very well decide to set up firstname.lastname@example.org and start emailing from the Oval Office. He’s already sending out YouTube video addresses so anything is possible!