Politics, high-tech mix at Comdex

CHICAGO — A day after Bill Clinton became the first U.S. president to address

a technology trade show, a group of Republican congressmen discussed legislative

topics with industry representatives at the spring 2000 Comdex conference.

Topics ranged from privacy to the H-1B visa program to the U.S. government's

expenditure on research and development. The Republicans also showed their

concern about the subject President Clinton focused on during his visit

to Comdex — the digital divide.

Clinton had challenged high-tech companies to get involved in programs

aimed at closing the gap between the technology haves and have-nots.

Companies must recognize that government alone cannot meet the challenge

of closing the digital divide, Clinton told Comdex attendees Tuesday. He

said it was crucial that IT companies spread new technologies to underprivileged

people in order to continue the current U.S. economic expansion.

"Closing the digital divide is one of the most important things we could

do that would have the quickest results in alleviating the kind of poverty

which is inexcusable in the kind of economy we're experiencing today," Clinton

said.

Specifically, Clinton asked IT companies to support his national call

to action issued at a White House briefing April 4 challenging corporations

and organizations to take concrete steps to connect every classroom to the

Internet and make home access to the Net universal.

The president listed ideas as basic as donating computers to schools

and helping to train teachers to make certain they are as comfortable in

front of a computer as they are in front of a chalkboard.

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