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My advice to President Trump: Keep the private email servers, ditch the Android phone, and Tweet on!


My advice to President Trump: Keep the private email servers, ditch the Android phone, and Tweet on!

Now that President Trump is in the White House, there are some breathless stories going around about the technology his administration is adopting.
When Barack Obama came into the White House, he was the most connected president ever, an active user of an actual BlackBerry, before that concept became so terribly quaint. At the time, I covered the initial furor over whether he'd be allowed to keep his personal phone, and the eventual adoption of a military-grade communications device.
Donald Trump, of course, fueled his election through his Twitter account. Consequently, there's some discussion over whether he'll be able to keep a very out-of-date Samsung Galaxy S3 Android phone from 2012. I'll discuss that in a moment.

PRIVATE EMAIL SERVERS

The second tech story to get some traction is "Trump White House senior staff have private RNC email accounts" from Newsweek reporter Nina Burleigh.
The basic appeal of this story is the irony. After all, Trump and the GOP went after Hillary Clinton, even to go so far as chant "Lock her up," because of her operation of a private email server.
The Newsweek story focuses on a Republican National Committee server which, according to current whois records, appears to be operated on the same domain, and by the same hosting provider, as it was when I investigated it during the Bush administration. (Back then, I was investigating what happened to millions of email messages about the firing of US Attorneys.)
According to the Newsweek story, "The system (rnchq.org) is the same one the George W. Bush administration was accused of using to evade transparency rules after claiming to have 'lost' 22 million emails."
This is not true. The government (as well as Democratic-leaning advocacy groups) focused nearly all their attention on the fact that the Bush administration email records were lost from the Executive Office of the President's government-operated email infrastructure.
The Bush administration converted from a Notes-based email environment to an Exchange-based one, right at the lead up to the Iraq war. This was all internal to the White House. None of the emails considered "missing" or "lost" were ever conflated with the email on the RNC's servers.
Private servers don't mismanage classified information. People do.
In my book Where Have All The Emails Gone?, I extended the discussion to include the issue of private emails traversing the open internet over SMTP. The difference is, I focused on that as a security risk and a presidential record-keeping issue. At the time, I estimated that 103.6 million email messages traveled over the internet via the hosting provider, SMARTech, located in Chattanooga.
There's a law, called the Hatch Act of 1939, that has been interpreted in modern times as compelling government officials to use private servers to conduct non-government business. Essentially, the Hatch Act says you're not supposed to spend government money, or use government resources, to campaign. When the legislation was enacted, it was intended to prevent government officials from using stamps and staff paid for through taxes for political purposes. In the digital era, it's been extended to digital resources.
In any case, the issue of the rnchq.org domain, operated by SMARTech (during the Bush administration as well as now), is a non-story, despite the irony of the situation. There's no law against having your own technology and using it.
The issue with Hillary Clinton was that she used the private server for government business, did not properly comply with Federal Records Act regulations, ignored all of her own State Department rules for appropriate email use, and as the FBI director called it, practiced "extreme carelessness" in terms of managing classified information. For more details, you can read my two special reports about the FRA violations and the systemic disregard for required security practice.
Private servers don't mismanage classified information. People do.
Because of the Hatch Act, it's expected and, in fact, required that Trump administration personnel use a private server for anything other than government communications. They just need to be sure they don't do anything as careless and dangerous as sending classified information over a non-government system.

PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PHONE

Speaking of dangerous, let's get back to the topic of President Trump's Android phone. There have been conflicting reports about whether he's giving it up for a more secured device.
There are Twitter apps for just about everything. Given that the secured phone provided to the president is most likely a Windows device of some sort (possibly CE), there are existing Twitter clients available. Even if the device is based on Windows Phone, Twitter itself offers a client.

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