Huffpost New York

Andrew Cuomo's Blackberry To Blackberry Messaging Eschews Promised Transparency, Say Critics

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Despite championing an unprecedented level of transparency during his term as governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo is currently under fire for his use of Blackberry's BBM messaging system and reported refusal to use state email.

Why the criticism over the technology preference?

As The New York Times reports, Blackberry to Blackberry messaging (BBM) and phone calls are untraceable, unlike email correspondences that can be recovered even when deleted. Therefore, the governor's strict BBM usage appears to undermine his touted message of transparency.

One former Cuomo official said that although the governor never explicitly explained why he use Blackberry's PIN, the reason was clear. "It doesn’t have a paper trail. If he gets a new phone, he gets a new PIN, even if he has the same phone number. Every phone has a specific PIN. If you want to exclude folks from having it, you get a new phone and distribute the PIN to a smaller or different group."

While New York Attorney General, Cuomo saw the fallouts of email recovery when investigators were able to successfully retrieve emails thought to have been deleted long ago.

In fact, Cuomo once joked about the benefits of using a a Blackberry if one were to attempt to carry out an affair

He said, "You get into trouble with your significant other, you give them your BlackBerry. You want it? Here it is. Ask me anything, I’ll show you.”

(Although said in jest, the remark proved rather interesting considering past rumors of mutual marital affairs between Cuomo and former wife Kerry Kennedy. )

Even as recently as March, Cuomo dismissed calls for increased transparency saying, "You can't live your life in a goldfish bowl" and warned of becoming "overly fixated" on transparency, a far cry from the open government model he promised when coming into office.

Mark Caramanica, freedom of information director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press criticized the governor for appearing to dodge records. "Public officials should know better," he said. "If it doesn’t pass the smell test, they shouldn’t be doing it. Obviously this does not reflect well — for someone who ran on a platform of being transparent. This certainly runs counter to that.”

Cuomo's camp didn't seem too happy with the secrecy allegations. A Cuomo spokesman derided the Times and said the paper had "sunk to a new low by suggesting that normal, standard office practices to ensure confidential information is kept confidential is somehow objectionable.”

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