Thursday, September 14, 2006

Political Muscle

Here in California, candidates are preparing for a contentious gubernatorial race that has dramatized the ethical dimensions of netizenship for opposing sides. The big story this week concerns who owns and rightfully has access to mp3 files from private conversations that were posted on the governor's public site. Amazingly, a clip in which the Governator talks about legislator Bonnie Garcia as "hot" and attributes what he characterizes as a fiery temperament to a mix of "black blood" and "Latino blood" was actually posted, probably to a .gov site, based on the fact that the California Highway Patrol is investigating this breach of "safeguarding state property."

The Los Angeles Times, which broke the story, has reported that the files were leaked by Democratic operatives working for challenger Phil Angelides, who worked backwards from a link e-mailed to the press to a root directory with an encyclopedic collection. Today the Governor's claim that the clips were password protected and must have been "hacked" was disputed by a prominent L.A. area DJ, who has accessed the clips himself many times in the past, according to "Radio Station Disputes Gov.'s Claim Speech Website Was Hacked." This isn't the only case where a conservative incumbant has accused a liberal opponent of digital dirty tricks, and the accusation has been subsequently denied: the recent Lieberman-Lamont race, in which allegations of denial of service attacks were bandied about, presents another example of the phenomenon.

You can listen to one of the incriminating conversations here . (The clip runs better in Explorer.) Be prepared to be stunned.

Despite his stumble in cyberspace, so far it seems that the telegenic former moviestar and incumbant Republican front runner has been successfully using the incident to widen his lead among an electorate more suspicious of hackers and identity thieves than public officials using racial stereotypes on the job.

What I find ironic is that Schwarzenegger has such a proprietary attitude about the use of his voice, given that sound bites from Schwarzenegger dialogue have become widely available in an informal creative commons, because digital files of the actor's audio, such as this and this are push-button ready for old school prank phone calls.

While you're thinking about left coast digital politics, check out this online news game from the nurses' union that helped to thwart the Governor's attempts to change pension rules for state employees. You might also want to look at the Schwarzenegger campaign's official site, which unlike most electioneering sites, doesn't use traditional red, white, and blue. Unfortunately the governor's official ring tones aren't yet available.



Blogger Fuck You Google said...

I want to live in California.

Though it has nothing to do with politics.

But the prank phone calls are hilarious! I've heard them before.

5:40 PM  
Blogger painfullyhonest said...

Digital rhetoric eh? Those sound like important words.

5:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home