Strict tech security for 'gadget geek' President Obama

President Obama took office in the midst of the digital revolution, and he has been at the forefront adopting new technologies. Like many Americans, the president, whom The New York Times deems a "gadget geek," wears a Fitbit, carries a smartphone and uses an iPad. However, unlike many Americans, the president's gadgets are significantly altered to disable certain connectivity channels which could be security threats for the commander in chief.

A NYT report outlining the president's technological limitations asks, "In this always-on, always-connected world, what good is a Fitbit with no GPS or an iPad that can't connect to the cloud?"

For example, Fitbits feature GPS tracking and wireless syncing, in addition to collecting biometric data about its users. While White House officials and Fitbit officials did not comment to NYT regarding President Obama's use or security issues with using the technology, the report says this type of information — the president's location or physical condition — isn't what security officials want to be accessible to the general public. "It is easy to conclude that [President] Obama is not having a typical out-of-the-box experience with his electronic toys," according to the report.

President Obama uses a BlackBerry with enhanced security features, and only a certain few individuals are permitted to send him an email. He said he is not permitted to use an iPhone for security reasons.

The report also concludes President Obama's iPad likely doesn't have the same capabilities as a standard tablet, drawing on experiences of other White House officials.

General James Cartwright, who formerly served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during President Obama's first term, sought an iPad as a better way to have access to information in meetings, reports NYT. However, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency modified Gen. Cartwright's iPad, disabled key functions of the iPad for security reasons, including removing the camera, wireless chips, location sensors and microphones.

"What I ended up with was a pretty dumb iPad," Gen. Cartwright told NYT. "It wasn't connected to anything."

President Obama reportedly uses his iPad to read briefings and check sports scores, though his tablet likely underwent similar modifications to that of Gen. Cartwright's, according to the report.

The NYT report suggests President Obama is "the first committed early adopter of personal technology to serve as president," though if he weren't president, he would likely be using technology as any typical American.

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8 CIO concerns for 2016

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