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Al Gore on Technology

2000 Democratic Nominee for President; Former Vice President


1991: Pushed funding for first web browser

No lie was spread farther and wider than this one: "Al Gore said he invented the Internet." If you were alive in 2000, you heard this claim; it appeared in over 1,000 stories in the American media during the campaign. But what you probably don't know is that Al Gore never said he invented the Internet. What he actually said was, "During my service in the Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet"--plainly a statement about his work as a congressman on the Internet, and not a claim that he had "invented" anything. And it was true, to boot. During the 1980s, when the Internet was little more than a network linking a few universities, Gore repeatedly advocated greater funding for computer networking research. Among the bills he later introduced were the High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991, which led to the development of the first Web browser, and the Information Infrastructure and Technology Act of 1993, which opened the Internet to commercial traffic.
Source: Free Ride, by David Brock and Paul Waldman, p. 80 , Mar 25, 2008

TV converts well-informed citizenry to well-amused audience

Our Founders’ faith in the viability of representative democracy rested on their trust in the wisdom of a well-informed citizenry, their ingenious design for checks & balances, and their belief that the rule of reason is the natural sovereign of a free people. The Founders made a special point--in the 1st Amendment--of protecting the freedom of the printing press. And yet today, almost 45 years have passed since the majority of Americans received their news & information from the printed word. Newspapers are hemorrhaging readers. Reading itself is in decline. The Republic of Letters has been invaded and occupied by the empire of television.

In the world of TV, the massive flows of information are largely in only one direction, which makes it virtually impossible for individuals to take part in what passes for a national conversation. Individuals receive, but they cannot send. They hear, but they do not speak. The “well-informed citizenry” is in danger of becoming the “well-amused audience.”

Source: The Assault on Reason, by Al Gore , May 16, 2007

Defend Internet freedom as ferociously as freedom of press

The Internet has the potential to revitalize the role played by the people in our constitutional framework. It is the most interactive medium in history. But the Internet must be developed and protected, in the same way we develop and protect markets-- through the establishment of fair rules of engagement and the exercise of the rule of law. The same ferocity that our Founders devoted to protect the freedom and independence of the press is now appropriate for our defense of the freedom of the Internet. The stakes are the same: the survival of our Republic. We must ensure that the Internet remains open and accessible to all citizens without any limitation on the ability of individuals to choose the content they wish regardless of the Internet service provider they use to connect to the Web. We cannot take this future for granted. We must be prepared to fight for it, because of the threat of corporate consolidation and control over the Internet marketplace of ideas.
Source: The Assault on Reason, by Al Gore , May 16, 2007

Internet restores press integrity lost by 1-way TV dominance

Part of the problem with climate change has to do with a long-term structural change in the way America’s marketplace of ideas now operates. The one-way nature of our dominant communications medium, television, has combined with the increasing concentration of ownership--the vast majority of media outlets are owned by a smaller and smaller number of large conglomerates that mix entertainment values with journalism--to seriously damage the role of objectivity in America’s public forum. The propaganda techniques that emerged with the new mass media of the 20th century prefigured the widespread use of related techniques for mass advertising & for political persuasion. Today there are fewer independent journalists with the freedom & stature to blow the whistle when important facts are consistently being distorted in order to deceive the public. The Internet offers the most hopeful opportunity to restore integrity to the public dialogue, but TV is still dominant in shaping that dialogue.
Source: An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore, p.286-7 , May 26, 2006

Tech makes us a force of nature; obligation to use wisely

Mistakes in our dealings with Mother Nature can now have much larger, unintended consequences, because many of our new technologies confer upon us new power without automatically giving us new wisdom. Some of our new technologies overwhelm the human scale.

Our new technologies, combined with our numbers, have made us, collectively, a force of nature. And those with the most technology have the greatest moral obligation to use it wisely. And this too, is a political issue. Policy matters. The US is responsible for more greenhouse gas pollution than South America, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, Japan, and Asia--all put together.

Source: An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore, p.247-251 , May 26, 2006

1996: Led effort for telecomm bill's V-chip and E-rate

The Telecommunication Act was what Al Gore had dubbed the "information superhighway." There had been months of sparring over complex economic issues, with the Republicans favoring greater concentration of ownership in media and telecommunications markets and the White House and the Democrats supporting greater competition, especially in local and long-distance telephone service. With Al Gore taking the lead for the White House and Speaker Gingrich in his positive entrepreneurial mode, we reached what I thought was a fair compromise, and in the end the bill was passed almost unanimously. It also contained a requirement that new television sets include the V-chip, which I had first endorsed at the Gores' annual family conference, to allow parents to control their children's access to programs.

Even more important, the act mandated discounted Internet access rates for schools, libraries, and hospitals; the so-called E-rate would eventually save public entities about $2 billion a year.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.699-700 , Jun 21, 2004

Right wing controls media via RNC-Fox-Limbaugh network

Many on the left are concerned with what they call right-wing control of the media. The left is obsessed in particular with Rush Limbaugh and see the FOX News Channel in a similarly hysterical light.

A theory best expressed by Al Gore theorized, "Something will start at the Republican National Committee, inside the building, and it will explode the next day on the right-wing talk show network an on FOX News and in the newspapers that play this game." He continued, "The Fox News network, the Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh--there's a bunch of them, and some of them are financed by wealthy, ultra-conservative billionaires who made political deals with Republican administration and the rest of the media. Most of the media [have] been slow to recognize the pervasive influence of this fifth column in their ranks." Yes, Gore actually calls people who disagree with him "fifth columnists."

Source: Madame Hillary, by R. Emmett Tyrell, p. 30-31 , Feb 25, 2004

$33B for new R&D tax credit; more privacy protection on-line

Gore argued that the technology-driven growth of the 1990s could be stopped in its tracks by a return to the policies of the 1980s.Gore called for making permanent the tax credit for research & development-a proposal long advanced by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and technology companies. The changes would cost $33 billion over 10 years. He also proposed to double federal research in information technology over the next five years and all medical research over the next seven years.

At the same time, Gore promised that, if he is elected, the government will keep its “hands off” the Internet, with “no burdensome regulations, no new tariffs on Internet transmissions, and a moratorium on taxes on the Internet.”

The only area where Gore outlined a stepped-up government role was in protecting individual privacy, where he said he would fight for new laws to keep personal medical and financial records private.

Source: Dan Balz, Washington Post, p. A10 , Oct 28, 2000

Parents’ “protection page” to check kids’ web surfing

Parents feel like you have to compete with the mass culture in order to raise your kids with the values that you want them to have. I’ve been involved myself in negotiating with the Internet service providers to get a parents’ protection page every time 95% of the pages come up. And a feature that allows parents to automatically check, with one click, what sites your kids have visited lately. If you can check up on them, that’s real power.

Recently the FTC pointed out that some entertainment companies have warned parents that the material is inappropriate for children, and then they turned around and advertised that same adult material directly to children. That is an outrage. Joe Lieberman and I gave them six months to clean up their act. And if they don’t, the FTC [would prosecute for] false and deceptive advertising. I want to do something about this-while respecting the First Amendment-but I will do something to help you raise your kids without that garbage.

Source: St. Louis debate , Oct 17, 2000

“Digital Cabinet” of high-tech advisors

Source: The Economist, “Issues 2000” special , Sep 30, 2000

Maintain prosperity via millions of new high-tech jobs

Source: 191-page economic plan, “Prosperity for American Families” , Sep 6, 2000

Double investment in medical research

Within the next few years, scientists will identify the genes that cause every type of cancer. We need a national commitment equal to the promise of this unequalled moment. So we will double the federal investment in medical research. We will find new medicines and new cures - not just for cancer, but for everything from diabetes to HIV/AIDS.
Source: Speech to the 2000 Democratic National Convention , Aug 18, 2000

New technology should not mean less privacy

Just by knowing your Social Security number, a thief is able to steal your identity and your money. I will make it a national priority to stop this kind of traffic in personal data. I’ll start by making it a federal crime to buy or sell anyone’s Social Security number. Let’s put the “security” back in Social Security. Together, we have to send a clear message to all our people -- no matter how our technology grows and changes, your fundamental right to privacy is something that must never change.
Source: Press Release “Prohibiting the Sale of SSNs” , Jun 8, 2000

Promote $500B market for energy technology

The Kyoto goals are both practical and economically beneficial. The increases in our investment in renewable energy and conservation that the Clinton-Gore administration has fought for and won from Congress will not only cut down greenhouse gases but reduce energy costs and result in a new generation of environmental technologies that American companies can sell in the world market for pollution control, which is already worth $500 billion a year and is already dominated by the US. We have doubled environmental technology exports over the last four years, and we will do it again in the next four. Markets for new energy technology will burgeon to $10 trillion worldwide in the next two decades. The US can and must capture a significant share of that total through a strong program of research, demonstration, and deployment of technology.
Source: New foreword to Earth in the Balance, p. xvii , Apr 23, 2000

Unhealthy concentrations of power snuff out competition

While Gore has broken ranks with the president on several recent occasions, he & President Clinton have remained quiet on Microsoft. In November, at Microsoft headquarters, Gore said stern antitrust action sometimes is needed to break up “unhealthy concentrations of power” that snuffs out competition. Gore stressed, however, that he was speaking only of his belief in the “fundamental American value” of making sure that neither heavy-handed government for unfair business practices quash competition.
Source: Associated Press , Apr 9, 2000

Broadcasters required to assist with “Democracy Endowment”

Under Gore’s proposed “Democracy Endowment”, there would be a “powerful incentive” for broadcasters to air public service announcements to help build the fund, Gore explained. If the fund is not filled, the broadcasters would be required to provide free air time to candidates as a condition for their license.
“If broadcasters wanted to avoid the requirement to give free air time, all they would have to do is say ‘no’ to the special interests seeking to influence that campaign,” Gore said.
Source: CNN.com AllPolitics , Mar 27, 2000

Postpone Mars for domestic spending

Q: Are you willing to take a bold step and leave us with a legacy of having a man on Mars by 2010? A: First, as the recent two failures of these robotic landers show, there’s still a lot we don’t know. Second, the cost is a completely different order of magnitude as the cost of a moon program. There’s no doubt that eventually we will land a human being on Mars. But we are right now not at a point where it makes good sense. We’ve got to get to universal health care. We’ve got to revolutionize our schools
Source: Town Hall Meeting, Nashua NH , Dec 18, 1999

Expand crime-fighting computer technology nationally

New crime-fighting technology has already proven its effectiveness. [Some] police now have laptop computers, so they can file reports from their cars and spend less time back in the office. [Many] officers have instant access to databases of criminal records, so that when they respond to a call, they are better informed, and much more effective. Al Gore has led federal efforts to share and expand this cutting-edge, crime-fighting technology with law enforcement around the country.
Source: (Cross-ref from Crime) www.AlGore2000.com/issues/crime.html , Jun 14, 1999

Triana satellite would inspire environmental consciousness

The proposed Triana satellite is Al Gore’s brainchild. In March 1998, Gore challenged NASA to build & fly an inexpensive spacecraft that would make continuous pictures of the full sunlit Earth from far out in space, to be shown via the Internet. Using current satellites, any “whole Earth” views have to be stitched together from several images. Gore said that seeing the entire Earth against the blackness of space would inspire environmental consciousness & encourage new educational & scientific efforts
Source: NY Times, page D-1 , Jun 1, 1999

Genome project yes; genetic discrimination no

Throughout his career, Al Gore has realized that as our science and technology advance -- sometimes faster than we can even comprehend -- we must work especially hard to protect our oldest and most cherished values. That is why, while supporting the completion of the Human Genome Project, he has also championed legislation to ban genetic discrimination.
Source: www.AlGore2000.com/issues/technolo.html 5/16/99 , May 16, 1999


Al Gore on Electronic Government

Create e-government, interactive access for all citizens

Source: Press Release, “E-Government” , Jun 5, 2000

“G-Bay”: on-line government surplus auction site

Gore today called for the creation of a new “e-government” to help eliminate bureaucratic red tape and make government more accessible to the people. Gore proposed placing nearly every government service on-line by 2003; creating a national interactive town square and “G-Bay,” an on-line government surplus auction site; giving every American a secure “digital key” to safely access government information & services; and placing interactive kiosks in malls to ensure e-government is accessible to everyone
Source: Press Release. “E-Government” , Jun 5, 2000

Online federal services: a “second American Revolution”

Al Gore promised on Monday that as president he would have nearly all federal services online by 2003 in a “second American Revolution” linking the people and their government via the Internet. He raised a vision of buyers competing for government business via Internet auctions: “The power of government should not be locked away in Washington but put at your services -- no further away than your keyboard,“ the Democratic presidential contender said. Gore said that under his plan, people could use the Internet to get information about Social Security benefits, to apply for a home loan through the Federal Home Administration, to report a crime or to find the health plan that would work best for them. He said he wanted government ”online -- so you don’t have to stand in line.“
Source: Associated Press in NY Times , Jun 5, 2000

Assisted heavily with invention of Internet in 1989

In 1989, Gore introduced the National High-Performance Computer Technology Act, a five-year, $1.7 billion program to expand the capacity of the information highway to connect government, industry, and academic institutions. Signed by President Bush in 1991, the bill supported research and development for an improved national computer system, and assisted colleges and libraries in connecting to the new network. While Gore is not, as he suggested in 1999, the father of the Internet, he can credibly claim credit as the wealthy uncle who stepped up to provide funds at an important moment. In 1989, when few public officials grasped the profound changes that new information technology would bring, Gore saw them plainly. “I genuinely believe that the creation of this nationwide network will create an environment where work stations are common in homes and even small businesses,” he told a House committee in the spring of 1989.
Source: Inventing Al Gore, p.217 , Mar 3, 2000

Proud of helping Internet; not proud of claiming invention

Q: What is the biggest mistake you have made in your political career? A: I would say that my biggest mistake was in my choice of words when I claimed to have taken the lead in the Congress in creating the Internet. I’m proud of what I did in that area, incidentally, because there was a little network called DARPANET in the Pentagon, and I did take the lead in the Congress in providing funding for the people who created what later became the Internet.
Source: Democrat Debate at Dartmouth College , Oct 28, 1999


Al Gore on Internet

1995: Led policy of free-market Internet

Clinton and Gore worked on a set of rules to govern e-commerce on the Internet--which, in 1995, barely existed. The process would be transparent, rather than secret. It would be bipartisan.

They published the proposed e-commerce protocol on the Web, and asked for suggestions; the protocol went through 14 public revisions before it was approved, on July 1, 1997. Most striking was the philosophy of the approach. It was firmly Libertarian; not just anti-censorship--but also opposed to the imposition of a sales tax on cyber-purchases, as a way to encourage the growth of e-commerce.

It was also a policy that fit with the Administration's approach to other New Economy issues. This was an absolutely crucial--if deadly dull--area of policy: Gore country.

The White House--led by the Vice President, who really did have a passion for these issues--acted to encourage a free market in the emerging information technologies. Mobile phone services blossomed; the Internet boomed.

Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p.186-187 , Feb 11, 2003

Electronic Bill of Rights protects personal information

Q: On Internet Privacy: Should the federal government step in to safeguard people’s online privacy or can that be done through self-regulation and users’ education?

A: I believe that, in this time of unprecedented possibility, we must ensure that new technology is used to renew and strengthen our oldest and most cherished values. That is why I have called for an Electronic Bill of Rights for this electronic age. It includes the right to choose whether personal information. is disclosed; the right to know how, when, and how much of that information is being used; the right to see it yourself; and the right to know if it’s accurate. In many areas, I believe that industry self-regulation of Internet privacy is an effective response. Last year, the administration and the FTC held a workshop that pushed the industry to come to the table and negotiate a privacy code of conduct. That code of conduct is now in place.

Source: Associated Press , Oct 6, 2000

Internet self-regulation OK: privacy policy on all web sites

In many areas, I believe that industry self-regulation of Internet privacy is an effective response. We have been pushing the private sector to get good privacy policies online, and there has been some impressive progress. For instance, only 14% of commercial Web sites had privacy policies posted in the spring of 1998, but that number had risen to 88% by this spring. The next steps are to figure out the best way to get privacy policies posted at that last 12% and to keep improving the quality of privacy policies. I am proud of my role in pushing for effective privacy protection in the area of online profiling. In 1998, before most people were even aware of the problem, I called for the government to study this issue and to create an effective response. Last year, the administration and the FTC held a workshop that pushed the industry to come to the table and negotiate a privacy code of conduct. That code of conduct is now in place.
Source: Associated Press , Oct 6, 2000

V-chip & Internet filters are parental tools to protect kids

[Gore supports] giving parents tools to protect children from violence: Gore noted that as of January, new television sets sold in America contain a V-chip. Gore championed the V-chip, a device that enables parents to block inappropriate content, such as graphic violence, from their televisions. Gore also highlighted Internet filters that allow parents to block certain web pages and monitor what their children are doing on-line.
Source: Press Release, Fort Lee, NJ , Apr 20, 2000

Bridge the Digital Divide

Source: Press Release from www.algore2000.com , Apr 3, 2000

Regulate Internet privacy & child access, but not content

Q: Should the government regulate the Internet?
A: The government’s role should not be to regulate content, obviously. The government should give parents more tools to protect their young children, give citizens more protections against violations of privacy. We should keep the moratorium on taxing transactions on the Internet while the questions are dealt with. And we’ve got to close the digital divide so that everybody, regardless of income or social circumstances has access to the Internet.
Source: Democrat debate in Los Angeles , Mar 1, 2000

Universal Internet access should be a national priority

Q: What specific social, educational, legislative and economic policies will you implement that will insure that minority communities will gain access to technology and resources essential to survival in this new information age? A: I believe that we need to get computing centers in the community for children and for adults. And we need to finish connecting every classroom and library to the Internet.
Source: Democrat debate in Harlem, NYC , Feb 21, 2000

Tax-free Internet a catastrophe for local governments

On keeping the Internet tax-free: Ideally, it should be tax-free. But in the real world, we cannot ignore the fact that our democracy thrives in a federal system in which state and local governments derive one-third of their revenue from sales taxes. Put yourself in the position of governors and mayors. I do not think that we can just stiff them as they contemplate a potential fiscal catastrophe [from the loss of sales taxes].
Source: Interview in Business Week, p. 42-43 , Dec 20, 1999

Connect every school to the Internet

Together with President Clinton, Gore set a national goal of connecting every classroom and library in the US to the Internet--and fought for the passage of deep discounts to make Internet access affordable for the every school and library in the nation. Already, we are halfway toward achieving that goal. Al Gore is working toward a 21st Century where a child can reach across a computer keyboard and read any book ever written, see any painting ever painted, and hear any symphony ever composed.
Source: (Cross-ref from Education) www.AlGore2000.com/issues/technol , Jun 14, 1999

Use high tech to deliver government and social services

Al Gore has worked to expand such innovations as distance learning and telemedicine -- to make health care and education more accessible to rural and hard-to-reach communities, and to the homebound. Through his Reinventing Government initiative, Gore has also put critical government services on-line -- so services such as help in starting small businesses and information about job training are available where they are more accessible to all.
Source: www.AlGore2000.com/issues/technolo.html 5/16/99 , May 16, 1999

Electronic Bill of Rights for personal privacy

Gore has focused on the challenge of protecting personal privacy on-line -- the medical and financial information that can too easily be intercepted and abused by others. That is why he has called for an Electronic Bill of Rights for this electronic age. It includes the right to choose whether personal information is disclosed; the right to know how, when, and how much of that information is being used; the right to see it yourself; and the right to know if it’s accurate.
Source: www.AlGore2000.com/issues/technolo.html 5/16/99 , May 16, 1999

Chief information officer to digitize federal government.

Gore adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Performance-Based Government
The strong anti-government sentiments of the early 1990s have subsided, but most Americans still think government is too bureaucratic, too centralized, and too inefficient.

In Washington and around the country, a second round of “reinventing government” initiatives should be launched to transform public agencies into performance-based organizations focused on bottom-line results. Many public services can be delivered on a competitive basis among public and private entities with accountability for results. Public-private partnerships should become the rule, not the exception, in delivering services. Civic and voluntary groups, including faith-based organizations, should play a larger role in addressing America’s social problems.

When the federal government provides grants to states and localities to perform public services, it should give the broadest possible administrative flexibility while demanding and rewarding specific results. Government information and services at every level should be thoroughly “digitized,” enabling citizens to conduct business with public agencies online.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC8 on Aug 1, 2000

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