Page last updated at 01:15 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Obama allowed to keep BlackBerry

Barack Obama
Barack Obama is an avid user of his BlackBerry

Barack Obama is to keep his BlackBerry, becoming the first US president to have access to e-mail in the White House.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs said a "compromise" would allow the president to stay in touch with senior staff and personal friends.

There had been security concerns about who might be able to see the president's e-mails.

But Mr Obama had repeatedly said he would have been reluctant to part with the device on becoming president.

"The president has a BlackBerry through a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends in a way that use will be limited," said Mr Gibbs.

"The security is enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate, to do so effectively and to do so in a way that is protected."

Presidential 'bubble'

It is good news for President Obama, who was often seen thumbing the jog wheel on his BlackBerry to check his e-mail during the campaign, the BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan reports from Washington.

Can't be doing with a 'CrackBerry', me. Being constantly reachable terrifies me! I've left my mobile at home a few times and coped quite well.
Lee McDonald, Manchester

After winning the election he said that if officials wanted him to give it up they would have to "pry it out of my hands".

"It's just one tool among a number of tools that I'm trying to use, to break out of the bubble, to make sure that people can still reach me," he told CNN.

"If I'm doing something stupid, somebody in Chicago can send me an e-mail and say, 'What are you doing?'"

Under the post-Watergate Presidential Records Act, most correspondence from the White House apart from that classed as "strictly personal" is recorded in the national archives.

Neither George W Bush nor Bill Clinton used e-mail during their presidencies.

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