Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Obama 'could stop using e-mail'

Barack Obama
Barack Obama: The first president "addicted" to the BlackBerry

Barack Obama, who gave up smoking before running for office, now faces a break with another habit - e-mail.

The US president-elect is likely to give it up, aides told the New York Times, because transparency laws would open his correspondence to public view.

Neither Bill Clinton nor George W Bush used e-mail during their presidencies, but unlike Mr Obama neither of them was a devoted BlackBerry user.

He took mobile e-mail everywhere on the campaign trail.

In the summer, cameras filmed him checking his BlackBerry while watching one of his daughters playing football.

His wife Michelle slapped at his hands, to get him to put it away.

"I think Obama is the first president who is addicted to the BlackBerry like the rest of us, and there's a lot of presidential records and archive rules on what gets stored and what doesn't," former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart told the Associated Press.

'Crisp' e-mails

A final decision on whether Mr Obama will become the first e-mailing president has yet to be made.

He is expected to be the first to have a laptop on his desk in the Oval Office.

Barack Obama holding BlackBerry
Mr Obama was often seen using his BlackBerry on the campaign trail
One possibility reported to be under consideration is that he could continue to receive e-mails, but not send them.

During the campaign, the New York Times reports, his advisers rarely printed out memos, e-mailing them to his BlackBerry instead.

The paper quotes aides saying that his e-mails, sometimes sent as late as 0100 or 0300, were "generally crisp, properly spelled and free of symbols or emoticons".

As well as the problem of the Presidential Records Act, which could open all presidential e-mails to public scrutiny, there are also security concerns.

I don't have a BlackBerry. The last thing I need is a barrage of emails while I'm away from work
Andrew, UK

Experts say there is always a risk of digital communication being hacked into.

There is also the possibility that the location of a presidential mobile telephone could be tracked.

Benjamin Nugent, author of the book American Nerd, says the president-elect is a techie, who will have difficulty parting with his BlackBerry.

"It'll be interesting if we could see the torment on his face," he told AP. "For me it would be hell."

But Mr Obama could yet decide to emulate Al Gore, who reportedly used a government e-mail address in his later years as vice-president.

"He's the president," said another Clinton press secretary, Mike McCurry. "If he wants to carry the BlackBerry, he's entitled."

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