The campaign of Phil Angiledes, the Democrat taking on California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, has taken responsibility for passing an embarrassing audio recording of the governor to The Los Angeles Times, according to reports.
Cathy Calfo, Angiledes' campaign manager, is asserting that the campaign did nothing illegal in its actions, claiming that the audio file was freely available on Schwarzenneger's Web site; no hacking was required.
She also insists that the Democratic nominee was unaware that members of his campaign had swiped and shared the files until after the deed was done.
Schwarzenegger's campaign, however, said Tuesday that the sound files were stored "in a password-protected area of the governor's office network computer system."
However, CNet reported that the files were not password protected at all. From the CNet article:
The controversy may center on the design of the Web server called speeches.gov.ca.gov. The California government used it to post MP3 files of Schwarzenegger's speeches in a directory structure that looked like "http://speeches.gov.ca.gov/dir/06-21.htm.htm". (That Web page is now offline, but saved in Google's cache.)
A source close to Angelides told CNET News.com on Tuesday that it was possible to "chop" off the Web links and visit the higher-level "http://speeches.gov.ca.gov/dir/" directory, which had the controversial audio recording publicly viewable. No password was needed, the source said.
The California Highway Patrol is continuing to investigate how the files got leaked.
In the recording, Schwarzenegger is heard speaking about the ethnic background of state Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia. Commenting on whether she is Cuban or Puerto Rican, Schwarzenegger says: "They are all very hot. They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it."
The governor has since apologized for his comments.
Sure, there's some gossipy intrigue to all this, but the incident raises some interesting questions, both ethical and technological.
On the ethical front: Is it OK to snag and distribute information from a competitor if said information is clearly intended to be locked away? Is that part of the spirit of capitalism and the free market: exploiting your opponents' weaknesses for competitive advantage?
And technologically speaking, it might give some organizations cause to look at some of the technologies that evaluate just how well-protected your public-facing Web applications are. Are you, in fact, leaving the door wide open for a burglar to stroll in, pick up some data valuables, and stroll out undetected?
But the biggest question of all is: Why hasn't the media yet coined a pithy name for this little episode with the suffix gate?