Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s marketer-in-chief, recently claimed that her boss would actually be sacrificing power when he assumed the office of president. Inexplicable as that claim is, in the lead-up to his inauguration, Trump may have finally given up something that actually hits home—his cell phone.
The Associated Press reports that Trump recently surrendered his Android handset at the behest of security agencies, presumably replacing it with a secure device like the one President Obama has used. In the past, Trump was sufficiently attached to his own device that data analysts were able to demonstrate that his personal tweets came from it.
While it’s not clear what will be taking that device’s place, the AP writes that President Obama’s secure devices had limited functionality, having been “heavily modified for security purposes." We may, in other words, be seeing fewer angry 3 a.m. tweets from the newly minted leader of the free world, if only because it’ll be marginally more inconvenient for him to send them out.
Of course, cybersecurity comes in many forms, and simply replacing a device will neither fully protect the new president nor the nation he ostensibly serves. While Trump may not be able to tweet from his new device, his Twitter account still presents a security risk, as ZDNet’s Zack Whittaker observes.
Given that Trump’s tweets can have almost immediate consequences for the stock market—and that they may well have broader geopolitical effects—protecting access to that account should be a priority. And at this point, there’s no way to know if the people who tweet for Trump also got a security upgrade. It's even possible that taking Trump’s phone from him may make us less secure, since it could encourage Trump to give Twitter access to more of his aides, furnishing would-be hackers with more potential intrusion points.
Whatever the security implications of the actual device and the apps on it, though, it may be more important still that Trump had to give up his old phone number. As Josh Keating wrote in Slate last month, Trump’s surprisingly accessible phone number had spawned a variety of troubling situations, not least of all because he was apparently willing to answer, even if he didn’t know who was calling, something that’s already created problems in his relationships with other world leaders. Assuming he can resist the temptation to give out his new number—which, let’s be honest, he’ll probably announce on Fox News next week—such situations may become a little less common.