Obama may be able to keep his BlackBerry after all

There's been plenty of speculation about whether President Obama will be able to hang on to his beloved BlackBerry, a fixture of the presidential campaign. One report says yes, he can.

Declan McCullagh Former Senior Writer
Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.
Declan McCullagh
A Secret Service agent moves to retrieve the president-elect's BlackBerry at Reagan National Airport on January 16, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN

Forget the important task of opening up government. Never mind a recession that seems to be trying hard to be promoted to a full-scale depression. In geekish circles, the question of the week has been: Will President Obama manage to hang on to his BlackBerry?

Obama told us more than a year ago that it was his favorite gadget, and he was rarely without it during the 2008 campaign. In 2001, George Bush famously gave up e-mail, and there was plenty of speculation that Obama would too, either for privacy or open-government reasons. Last week, we suggested the Sectera Edge as a secure PDA-phone--it's rated for SECRET data and TOP SECRET voice--that might do the trick.

Now we're hearing from a report on The Atlantic's Web site that Obama will be able to keep his BlackBerry after all. Apparently it's been outfitted with encrypted software secure enough for routine personal messages--meaning, if this report is true, there will be no Microsoft Windows Mobile in the president's immediate future.

We're still waiting, by the way, to hear back from the National Security Agency. They said they'd be happy to entertain questions from us, and it's been over a week. We're not holding our breath.