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FCW Insider: Dark ages = good security?

A Washington Post reader has offered an interesting but slightly disturbing perspective on the state of technology at the White House.

In a letter to the editor, the reader took issue with an article from Sunday's Post entitled "Staff Finds White House in the Technological Dark Ages." Here is a snippet from that article:

If the Obama campaign represented a sleek, new iPhone kind of future, the first day of the Obama administration looked more like the rotary-dial past.

Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts.

What does that mean in 21st-century terms? No Facebook to communicate with supporters. No outside e-mail log-ins. No instant messaging. Hard adjustments for a staff that helped sweep Obama to power through, among other things, relentless online social networking.

"It is kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said of his new digs.

Great quote. But the writer (and the Obama team) is missing an important point, Jon Halperin writes in his letter.

It came off as an attack against former president George W. Bush when the bigger concern should have been the Obama administration's ignorance of security best practices. Just because a Web 2.0 application (such as Facebook) may be fun and useful for home operations does not mean it should be used in a federal environment as important as the White House.

It seems to me that many people would agree that the Obama administration should have a "security first" policy: They should not deploy Web 2.0 technology (or other types of application for that matter) until they have devised adequate security measures. But I hope we have gotten past the point of seeing Web 2.0 and security as mutually exclusive options.

 

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Jan 26, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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