As expected, the Presidential inauguration this past Tuesday did put mobile phone networks to the test, and then some. According to multiple reports several mobile phone networks were actually overwhelmed during the late morning and early afternoon as President Barack Obama was sworn into office.
For President Obama, it has been reported that he would have to give up give up his beloved Blackberry, but in exchange he’s getting a new mobile. So not a bad week for the new President of the United States (POTUS); he has received a new set of wheels in the form of an ultra-armored limousine, but now he’s getting a special hacker-proof mobile handset.
Multiple news organizations are reporting that the Commander in Chief will have a mobile phone worthy of a super spy, but little is being reported on exactly how it works. Of course if they told, well, they’d probably have to kill you.
Speculation is that the NSA (National Security Agency) likely has tweaked the handset with encryption technology worthy of a Jason Bourne or James Bond film. It is known that General Dynamics makes a smartphone for Top Secret voice and data transmission, and it appears that this could be the phone in the President’s pocket. Not quite his trusty Blackberry, but better than being handed “Mom’s old phone.”
This all begs the question as to why it isn’t possible for mobile phones to have a bit more security? Shouldn’t average users have the same level of privacy and security? So those calls to home during a business trip might not warrant it, many business calls can contain some very sensitive information.
Of course, there is the flip side of it and one that even this reporter is torn over. Too much security – the kind that would keep our corporate secrets ultra safe – would also provide a safe harbor for communications between drug dealers and terrorists. And additionally, knowing that the President can make calls without fear of being hacked is a good thing.
The worry is whether this technology would eventually only be used by those in power, and what ramifications that has for the truly private citizen. It evokes my favorite Latin phrase: Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? or, Who guards the guardians?