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Va.'s Role in Internet Hailed at Conference

From Roanoke Times
July 1, 1999

By Christopher Calan

BLACKSBURG - A state official said Monday that Virginia's role in developing the Internet, which provides its own type of independence, is similar to the role the state played in the American Revolution more than two centuries ago.

"Once again we find ourselves in the midst of a revolution, except this time it's global," said Donald Upson, the state's secretary of technology.

Upson, keynote speaker at the state's Center for Innovative Technology Internet conference at Virginia Tech, said the Internet provides its users with choices that weren't previously available.

"The Internet gives power to the individual," he said. "It just may be the most liberating technology ever created by man."

About 110 people attended the opening day of the weeklong conference, but organizers said 260 people have registered for other conference seminars regarding the Internet later this week.

Upson said Gov. Jim Gilmore is considering establishing a statewide program that would give tax breaks to businesses that take on computer science college majors as interns.

The three-year program would feature a database listing 5,000 students available to high-tech employers, Upson said.

"There is an excitement in the commonwealth today, I don't care where you live, because there's a growing perception that we are part of something special," he said.

U.S. Reps. and Internet Caucus co-chairmen Rick Boucher, D-Abingdon, and Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke, said their proposed Internet Freedom Act will give more people access to the information highway and protect their privacy while they use it.

Deregulation of the telephone companies could pave the way for cheaper high-speed Internet access and prevent Virginia from becoming a "digitally divided commonwealth," Goodlatte said.

He like the Internet's role in businesses today to the railroad a century ago.

"Those who don't have access will never be able to compete," Goodlatte said.

Boucher said the proposed legislation also would reduce the amount of junk e-mail, called spam, and allow digital signatures to become as legally valid as physical signatures.

Professor Alf Weaver of the UVa Department of Computer Science has helped organize the Internet Week event."

Original Article | Local Copy


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