Top-Secret P.D.A.

Source: Sam Grobart, http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com

President Obama May Carry Top-Secret P.D.A.

Nobody's saying anything official or on the record about this,
but reports popping up all across the Web indicate that
while President Obama may be able to keep
a mobile phone/e-mail device while in office,
that device may be something more exotic
than a BlackBerry from Research in Motion.

The nation's e-mailer in chief may be carrying something called

a Sectéra Edge, which is made by the military contractor

General Dynamics (you know, the submarine people).

The product description reads:

"Developed for the National Security Agency's Secure Mobile

Environment Portable Electronic Device (SME PED) program,

the Sectéra Edge is certified to protect wireless voice communications

classified Top Secret and below as well as access e-mail and

Web sites classified Secret and below."

The Sectéra looks like most P.D.A.'s, and operates like one when in normal mode.

But a press of a button on the front of the device engages

"classified mode" (for added effect, the screen background turns red when

this mode is activated).

It works on GSM and CDMA networks (AT&T, T-Mobile and

Sprint support the device,

according to the company's Web site),

and will be able to get on Wi-Fi networks sometime in the

third quarter of this year.

It operates on a Windows Mobile platform.

For there to be secure communications between two parties,

both must have a device that conforms to the necessary encryption protocols.

That can include portable units like the Edge, but also landline phones and


Mobile calls or e-mail messages between Mr. Obama and

Michelle Obama's civilian P.D.A. would most likely have

to take place in nonsecure mode, as family members

of the president rarely have

the necessary security clearance to warrant such a device.

Another thing that makes the Sectéra Edge fairly thin

on the ground: each unit costs $3,350.

It is unclear if its price drops to $19.99

with a two-year contract, but it seems unlikely.

Source: Sam Grobart, http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com

             J-L K.
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