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Obama Aides Not Happy About Giving Up IM -- :(

Barack Obama's aides learned Friday they'll have to give up one of their favorite means of communicating with each other, the media, and the outside world: the near-ubiquitous instant message.

The new White House lawyers say any communication involving government business that is sent via instant message will become a part of the official record and therefore subject to The Presidential Records Act, which states that official communication becomes public record five years after a president leaves office. This could open up Obama's staff to unwanted scrutiny; as the kind of conversation that occurs via instant message is often in an off-the-cuff, unguarded style, staffers could write messages that are easily misinterpreted, or just plain embarrassing.

Some messages could become public even before Obama leaves the White House, if there is a Congressional inquiry or lawsuit.

What does this mean for the Obama people? For starters, they're afraid of losing touch with the outside world. The Bush White House was often blamed -- deservedly or not -- for not being accessible enough to reporters and the public. The sensitive nature of communication in the administration makes every message – even the seemingly innocuous ones – important to the business of the people.

Obama himself has bristled at some of the proposed communications restrictions his legal team would impose. For example, he has fought to keep his BlackBerry, which he used throughout the campaign to communicate with staff and the press. Whether or not he continues to use it in the same way we'll just have to wait and see.

How will Obama's staffers compensate for their lost IM capability? They may have to relearn some older forms of communication, such as picking up the telephone or having face-to-face conversations. [From: Politico.]

Tags: barack obama, BarackObama, IM, instant messaging, InstantMessaging, Obama, politics, White House, WhiteHouse