Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tweeted several times before business hours--from an unsecured phone.

The New York Times reported today that Trump still tweets and takes calls on his old, unsecured Samsung Galaxy while in the White House residence, "to the protests of some of his aides." (This reverses earlier reports that Trump had, reluctantly, agreed to give up his unsecured phone.)

President Obama used a number of specially secured devices, including a Blackberry and an iPhone. Their functions were severely limited for security purposes: the iPhone could not play music, take pictures, or make outgoing calls. Trump has been given similar phones since taking office, but cannot be forced to use them.

Trump's Twitter account has been hacked before, and his unwillingness to coordinate his tweets with staff has raised fears of the damage to the economy or national security that could be done with even brief access. A compromised phone can also be used to surreptitiously record audio or video, record passwords and keystrokes, or track the user's browsing habits, among other things.

So who cares?

  • Convenient access to Twitter is not more important than national security.
  • It is a real problem if, five days into his term, a president's aides are talking to reporters in an attempt to get him to change his behavior.
  • If a fake tweet from a president's account declaring an invasion or trashing a company is plausible enough to do damage, it says something about the real tweets he sends.