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Internet Bill

President Clinton wants to make doubly sure Americans know that Uncle Sam is just a mouse click away.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Clinton announced the government will offer all public information online on the Internet. The focus of Saturday's address was another pet project—the White House on the web.

Saying he was proud to have brought the White House into the digital age, President Clinton said the government had an obligation to use the new technology to expand democracy.

"We've barely begun to understand how information technology will change our lives," he said. "But those of us in government have a responsibility to use these new tools to expand the reach of democracy and give more people a chance to live their dreams."

Clinton encourages Americans to check out Welcome to the White House for all their government needs. He says it's another step in his administration's effort to make government "high-speed, high-tech and user-friendly."

This comes after the White House's Friday launch of an upgraded version of its World Wide Web site, which makes the site more accessible and convenient to users.

"I'm proud to have been the president who brought the White House into the digital age," Mr. Clinton said. "It was just six years ago that we launched the very first White House Web site. Our Web site now has more than 9,000 pages of information—and that's not counting the archives."

The president says the new site "is a permanent part of the Executive Office of the President, so that future presidents will be able to change it to suit their needs as easily as they can change the furniture here in the Oval Office."

A release from the White House dubs Mr. Clinton "the first president of the Internet Age" and proclaims "the Clinton-Gore Administration has moved the U.S. government on-line." To prove it, the release provides a list of 25 things one can discover on the site as well as the popular features of the site.

The site, which the White House said receives 1.2 million hits per week and ensures access to users with disabilities, provides historical, tourist and educational information about the White House and its occupants.

It includes an entry-point for information about the rest of the federal government and a data base of documents released by the White House since President Clinton took office in 1993.

The site complies with guidelines to protect privacy and the government did not use "cookies" or other methods to track personal information about users of the site. The White House said security is a high priority.

"New security measures are constantly being put in place to anticipate and address the threat of cyber-attacks," it said.

Some highlights from Welcome to the White House:

  • Review on-time performance for major airlines.
  • Request an estimate of your retireent benefits.
  • Report a complaint about consumer fraud.
  • Apply for financial aid to colleges and universities.
  • View the birth of a star through the Hubble Telescope.
  • Get the latest economic indicators.
  • Check to see which hazardous wastes are in your neighborhood.
  • Get the current weather forecast for any city in the United
  • Find information on the offices of the President, Vice President, First Lady, and Mrs. Gore, including how to contact them by phone, mail, or e-mail.
  • Visit The White House for Kids, a first-of-its-kind site for children who want to learn about their federal government.
  • Get the latest White House tour schedule, event descriptions, and an on-line historical tour of the White House.
  • It's easy: New technology can recognize the type of browser being used and deliver the web pages to the user in the most appropriate format for the browser. Also, a text-only option was added to every page, giving users the choice of whether to view graphics or just text.
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