Obama is allowed to keep super-secure Blackberry

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One of the most talked-about topics surrounding Barack Obama has been resolved: would he keep his precious Blackberry? The answer: "Yes he can."

Mr Obama used the personal data assistant to stay on top of the news and in touch with friends and advisers on his long road to the White House. He was unhappy when the secret service and government lawyers told him he would have to surrender it for the duration of his presidency.

His protectors feared a hacker could eavesdrop on his calls or emails or discover his precise location. There was, it is fair to assume, a vigorous behind-the-scenes argument as the President dug his heels in. But it seems America's vast electronic surveillance arm, the National Security Agency, resolved the problem by adding "a super-encryption package" to the Obama Blackberry. It will enable the President to keep using it "for routine and personal messages".

Robert Gibbs, the witty new White House press secretary, broke the news at his first briefing yesterday, saying: "The President has a Blackberry through a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends in a way that use will be limited and the security is enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate."

All of Mr Obama's emails are subject to the Presidential Records Act and may be open to public scrutiny one day. John Podesta, who organised the transition , said removing the Blackberry would not only have hurt Mr Obama but would have cut him off from real people.