Trump trades in Android phone for Secret Service-approved device

Tweeter-in-chief Donald Trump has been issued an ultra-secure phone to go with his new responsibilities.

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Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
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Katie Collins
Laura Hautala
2 min read

Donald Trump arrives in DC for his inauguration.

Pool, Getty Images

Who's got two thumbs and a Secret Service-approved phone to tweet from?

On arriving in Washington on Thursday ahead of his inauguration, Donald Trump handed in his Android device in exchange for an unidentified locked-down phone, according to the Associated Press.

The phone comes with a new number that is known only to a limited number of people. This marks a big change for Trump, who's frequently on the line with friends, business contacts, reporters, foreign leaders and politicians.

Larry Johnson, who worked at the Secret Service from 1982 to 2006, said a smartphone given to a president would have extremely limited uses. "It's not really good for much," he said.

It's possible Trump's Twitter account would be operated from another phone, said Johnson, who now works as an executive at cybersecurity company CyberSponse.

But that's not where the phone's limitations would end. "You can't make a phone call, because it's too easy to be intercepted," Johnson said. "I can scare you with how easy it is."

The Secret Service declined to comment for this story.

Watch this: Trump trades in Android for a mystery phone

Barack Obama was the first president to use a mobile device approved by security agencies because of hacking concerns. Initially he had a heavily modified BlackBerry and later switched to another phone that had most features disabled. He was not known to use it for making or receiving calls, but it was one of few devices that had access to the @POTUS Twitter account.

Trump said earlier this week that he will keep using his existing Twitter account to communicate on social media, in addition the the @POTUS account.

Originally published Jan. 20, 2017 3:24 a.m. PT
Update, 10:50 a.m. PT: Added comment from retired Secret Service agent Larry Johnson.

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