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Al Gore bars press from RSA talk next month

Ex-veep wants to ban the press from keynote speech in San Francisco next month. No word on how Gore's going to stop any of the thousands of conference-goers from reporting on it.

Remember, folks, it's Al Gore's Internet. We're just using it.

Gore is scheduled to give a keynote speech on April 11 at the RSA Conference in San Francisco. RSA says as many as 17,000 people showed up at last year's conference, and it's reasonable to assume a large chunk of this year's crowd will try to squeeze into Gore's keynote speech. These are security types, engineers, marketers, PR flacks, and so on--many of whom have their own blogs, Flickr accounts, and Twitter feeds where they'll share details about Gore's speech (assuming he says anything interesting).

This cozy, stylish and handsome CNET fleece could be yours: be the first to send along a link to a video of Gore's you-may-not-record-this speech at RSA next month.

Which makes it bizarre that Gore has demanded--as a condition of giving the keynote speech--that press be barred from the room. As Kim Zetter wrote for "Video recordings, broadcasts and photography are also prohibited."

Gore might have gotten away with it a decade ago. And, to be sure, he has the right to negotiate that requirement with RSA. But nowadays, when tech-savvy audience members, who each coughed up some $3,670 for registration, are outfitted with digital cameras and recording devices (including on mobile phones), any speaker who insists on this requirement is foolish or naive.

You decide which category Gore falls into.

This isn't the first time that Gore has insisted on a $100,000-or-so speaking contract that prohibited press from attending. He did it at a speech at Augustana College (billed as "free and open to the public"). He did it at a speech last year to the American Institute of Architects convention, which the San Antonio Express-News crashed and wrote up anyway.

His standard speaking contract says "closed press" and "Vice President Gore will accept no interview requests" and "Vice President Gore does not permit taping of his speeches." It's especially ironic given Gore's joint ownership of Current TV, which relies on user-submitted content.

Does anyone really think Gore's Don't-Record-Me Ban will work at a conference of 17,000+ gadget-outfitted security geeks? Thought so. So here's my offer: A free (or CNET, depending on what we have in stock) baseball cap or fleece--your choice--to the first person who e-mails me a link to the video of the astonishingly publicity-shy ex-veep at RSA next month.

P.S.: The Gore-Internet quote from nearly a decade ago, according to CNN's official transcript: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet." (And no, for you conspiracy buffs, mentioning that doesn't make me a Bush administration acolyte.)