Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Intelligent Machines

The Trials of Barack Obama, Gadget Hound

Personal tech and presidential security don’t play well together. So the most powerful man in the world almost certainly carries around a bunch of lame gadgets.

President Barack Obama loves his gadgets. He’s the first POTUS to carry a smartphone, he’s into his iPad, and he’s been spotted with a Fitbit on his wrist.

But all that connectivity means vulnerability in the eyes of the people charged with keeping the president safe. Things like tracking the president by GPS or monitoring his heart rate have got to be nightmares for Obama’s IT team, to say nothing of the danger that his e-mails might be hacked, or a microphone surreptitiously used to spy on classified briefings.

The New York Times describes the technological travails of the commander-in-chief. They can’t say precisely how his gadgets have been modified—that’s a matter of national security—but they profile a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had to have his iPad modified by DARPA techs before it was usable in classified briefing rooms. It’s reasonable to think that most of Obama’s devices have suffered a similar fate, stripped of Bluetooth transmitters, tiny cameras, location sensors, and the like.

As for why Obama rocks a BlackBerry when makers of more stylish devices would clearly be willing to hook him up, in 2013 he said: “I am not allowed, for security reasons, to have an iPhone.” Poor guy.

(Source: New York Times)

Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.

Subscribe today
More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.