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Gore Web site breaches own pet privacy laws

And for an encore, the hapless veep annoys the Open Source lobby...

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Vice-president Al Gore, Microsoft's friend and now US presidential candidate, has blown it again. The man who likes to think that he created the Internet (or so he suggested to CNN, although he later claimed he was "tired" when he said this) has had a rough ride with his web site. It didn't help that when the site was first registered last year, it gave his office at the White House and his official phone number, rather than a campaign contact. That turned out to be a minor issue compared with when he showed his site at a press conference on Tuesday. In a "Just for Kids" section, children were invited to ask him questions, and to send their names, email address, and zip code. The snag was that a Gore press release claimed that he had "championed" the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act which will make it illegal to ask for such information when it comes into force. Gore's campaign manager consulted lawyers and the site then had a suggestion that kids should ask parents before giving the requested information. This was pointed out by a helpful press release from the Republican National Committee, which shows that at least sometimes there is some integrity in politics, even if it is just backbiting. But that wasn't all. Earlier in the week, the site said: "This is your web site -- IT'S OPEN SOURCE ...". That was puzzling, to say the least, and Slashdot's nerds let loose. The confusion between open source software and content has now been corrected, and when we looked at the HTML this morning for Gore's home page we found that his web person had anticipated our visit and left a message thanking us for dropping in. The grammar ain't wonderful ("one criteria" ...) but there was an invitation to develop a Linux screen saver in a competition, as "We are very interested in developing content that takes advantage of Open Source Software such as Linux". However, no prizes are mentioned. ®

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