The US is seen as one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Everyone uses email, talking on a cell phone is as common as breathing, and it won’t be long till someone’s thumbs freeze into permanent hooks from Crackberry texting.
But the President of the United States, it turns out, is not permitted to email. What??
The Presidential Records Act of 1978 says that every bit of presidential correspondence and records are public and not private. Emailing is thus a big problem: it would be nearly impossible to make sure that all emails were managed and archived for “public ownership.” Every message would technically be up for grabs, public property. Plus, security is a huge issue when it comes to email and the Internet. It seems foolish to think that crucial conversations and policies involving the president and the country would be floating around cyber space, a field day for hackers.
But… no email? Really? I cannot imagine living without email, and the incoming Commander in Chief is attached to his Blackberry like it’s his third child— indeed, he could not have run his campaign without it. Suddenly turning in the Blackberry for Obama must be the hardest part of his presidential journey thus far. When President Bush took office eight years ago, he too was forced to sign off, sending a finale email to his closest friends in which he wrote, “This saddens me.”
Well, George, no email would sadden me too. And it’s crazy to think of anyone being productive, much less running the free world, without that cyberspace connection. But so far the Oval Office has never even contained a laptop (which Obama has said he will bring in.) Clearly the White House is a smidge behind in the tech department. But this is the presidency of change, after all: Will Obama be the first emailing president?
Or maybe the more important question is: does Facebook count?