President Barack Obama is due to receive a high-security BlackBerry 8830 soon, a Washington-based newspaper reported today.
According to The Washington Times, the device is in the final stages of development at the National Security Agency, which will check that its encryption software meets federal standards. It might not be ready for months, however.
White House officials did not respond to a request to confirm the Times information. NSA officials could not be reached.
According to the newspaper, Obama will be able to send text and e-mail messages and make phone calls on the device, but only to those with the secure software loaded on their own devices. The list includes First Lady Michelle Obama and top aides.
The Times said the software comes from Genesis Key Inc. in Washington. The company's CEO, Steven Garrett, is quoted as saying: "We're going to put his BlackBerry back in his hand."
Since his inaugural, the president has used two devices, according to the paper. One is his older-version BlackBerry and the other is an NSA-supplied handheld known as the Sectera Edge from General Dynamics Corp. To use the BlackBerry, Obama has had to plug the Sectera Edge into the BlackBerry, making it cumbersome. Apparently, the 8830 will be easier to use, and also secure.
Several security analysts said in January that the Sectera Edge would be used because of its reputation for secure data communications when used by other federal workers.