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Why Can't Barack Obama Use a BlackBerry or Laptop?

Definition: Presidential Records Act

In 1978 Congress passed the Presidential Records Act (PRA), which gave legal ownership of official presidential records to the American people. Thanks to the law, presidential communication is obtainable to the public via the Freedom of Information Act, and can also be subpoenaed by a court.

As a result, a US president must keep his fingers idle while his aides fire off necessary electronic messages. This weekend, some pondered whether Barack Obama, a BlackBerry addict, will find a way to become the first emailing president. Yet, concerns over public scrutiny under the PRA, in addition to security considerations, probably mean Obama will be forced to go email-free.

Does US law handicap the country's chief executive by forcing him to remain in the 21st century without the agility provided by technology?


Join The Conversation
ThePerfectScore ThePerfectScore 8 years
I think the american public shouldn't be allowed to access every document or file the president writes.... I just think some things should be kept private as long as no crimes are committed.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I'm betting he'll do what the past (recent) Presidents have done. "Secretary, send a message to so-and-so. I want it to say this." I'm hoping that he will be busy enough that he won't miss sending emails. They will need to confiscat his blackberry though, because if he can send and receive, it's a place where a hacker can pick up his transmissions.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
UD - i hadn't thought about that - but GREAT POINT! i think that it's interesting to see what the implications are going to be in policy seeing as how a LOT of what's done these days is via email - but i guess obama will have to adapt or get his wrist slapped by the powers that be.
janneth janneth 8 years
This will be HARD for him.
outtajo outtajo 8 years
UnDave, while people did criticize McCain for not using email, it wasn't the simple lack of an email address that was being criticized. I think it was more the fact that huge numbers of Americans (and the world) use email - and much, much more in the way of technology - and it looked as though McCain was hopelessly out of touch on those matters. I mean, even Bush had an email address - although he looked a little slow on the uptake by still using AOL so late in the game ;)
sexylibrarian sexylibrarian 8 years
Since the law was passed in 1978 I think is might be time to update it. There was no such thing as email then. We now have a president that knows how to use the Internet and is well versed in using email. Heck yes Obama should become the first emailing president.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 8 years
AH! Great point UD!
TsuKata TsuKata 8 years
Didn't Bush and Cheney bypass this by using an RNC e-mail account instead of the official presidential e-mail account? Maybe that loophole has since been closed?
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 8 years
geesh! I would never be able to be president! I live on gmail!
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
So, we had all this crap about McCain not using email, and come to find out the Preasident can't use email anyway?!? Interesting.
stephley stephley 8 years
I don't think the President is hampered by going email-free; if it's that immediately important there's still the telephone. I think just because emails are so common and easy we exaggerate their importance.
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