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Wednesday, 16 February, 2000, 14:39 GMT
Prankster admits Clinton online porn joke

Cinton online chat Bill Clinton during an online chat

A computer prankster who used President Clinton's name during an online interview to call for more internet pornography, has said it was an easy trick that highlighted flaws in new media journalism.

Christopher Petro, a computer security officer from New York, managed to log in using the president's name during an interview of Mr Clinton by CNN - billed by the network as the first live online news interview with a sitting president.

Mr Petro said: "It was completely unplanned. I was just on there monitoring the chat just like everyone else ... It asked me for a nickname."

Chat room

Users who had logged into CNN's chat room carrying the event saw what appeared to be the president declaring: "Personally, I would like to see more porn on the Internet."

This is an exciting new medium, and any time you try something new there's always unexpected developments
Joe Lockhart, White House spokesman
Mr Petro said the remark was "the first thing that popped into my head".

He stressed he had not "hacked" the system, or broken into it from the outside.

He added: "I hope that this harmless prank has served to let CNN know that this system is insecure and needs to be overhauled before someone does actual harm to them or one of their guests."


Mr Petro was able to assign himself Mr Clinton's nickname after the chat room system apparently became overloaded and crashed, disconnecting the users.

He logged in and switched his nickname to that of Mr Clinton before the typist entering the president's responses was able to log in.

Bill Clinton online The president is looking to improve internet security
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said the prank would "absolutely not" deter the president from giving more online interviews.

"This is an exciting new medium, and any time you try something new there's always unexpected developments. But the president loved the interview, loved the questions, and I expect he'll be doing a lot of these," he said.

No overhaul

A CNN spokeswoman said there were no plans to overhaul the conference system.

The prank happened a day before the president met technology experts to discuss ways of improving internet security.

It followed last week's hacking attacks on some of the most well known American websites.
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See also:
15 Feb 00 |  Americas
Web attacks 'not electronic Pearl Harbour'
09 Feb 00 |  Business
Internet sabotage spreads
10 Feb 00 |  Business
How the web was wounded

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