For Immediate Release
December 9, 1999

Contact: Morrie Goodman
Chuck Melley


WASHINGTON- Commerce Secretary William M. Daley hosts the first summit on the Digital Divide here today, launching a public dialogue involving government, industry, civil rights and community leaders on ways to make the economic benefits of information technology accessible to all Americans.

"Our nation's most important resource is its people," Daley said. "In a society that increasingly depends on computers and the Internet to deliver information and enhance communication, we need to make sure that all Americans have access," he said. "This issue reaches deep into the economic heart of America and the last thing we want is to see the Internet bypass Americans because they do not have access to it," Daley added.

Closing the gap between those with access to information technology, critical to economic success and personal advancement, has been a top priority for the Clinton Administration, Daley said. It is an essential part of President Clinton's New Markets Initiative, which seeks to bring America's prosperity to economically-under served areas, he said.To further the President's initiative, Daley said, he will tour of 12 cities in the next 12 months to focus public attention on the digital gap and the need to close it.

Summit participants will examine existing public and private initiatives aimed at closing the technology gap and will discuss how to expand on and coordinate these efforts. The Summit will include a roundtable discussion with representatives of the public and private sectors with Secretary Daley moderating. The roundtable discussion will be followed by six breakout sessions. They will focus on technology and economic development in under served areas; sustainable public access points, lowering barriers to access through new product development; marketing to and content for under served populations; rural communities and training and education.

Roundtable participants include Michael Armstrong, chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T corp., Stephen M. Case, chairman and chief executive officer, America Online, Inc., Richard H. Brown, chairman and chief executive officer EDS, Wade Henderson, executive director , Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Hugh Price, President, The National Urban League, Susan Masten, president, National Congress of American Indians, and Jorge Schement, a board member of the Benton Foundation.