Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gates Requests Continued Use of Government's `Light Hand'

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gates Requests Continued Use of Government's `Light Hand'

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates urged a receptive Senate panel on Tuesday to continue using a light touch while regulating the high-tech companies that are helping to drive the nation's booming economy.

Gates testified in a packed room on Capitol Hill, just blocks from the federal courthouse where Microsoft is fighting a landmark antitrust case.

The celebrity billionaire, who didn't testify in the courtroom in his company's defense, barely discussed his legal problems, except to say that antitrust laws "are fine" and don't need to be rewritten. "The incredible success of this industry in the United States owes a lot to the light hand of government in the technology area, the fact that people can take incredible risks and if they're successful they can have incredible rewards," said Gates. Worth more than $60 billion, he is the world's wealthiest person. "That kind of risk-taking attitude is fairly unique to the United States," Gates added. "We really are the envy of the world." Even as Gates praised the government's minimalist role regulating his industry, he asked the Joint Economic Committee for fewer restrictions on exporting the most powerful data-scrambling technology. He also asked for new tax breaks on research spending. Both are pet issues for high-tech companies. "The industry is losing a lot of sales because the encryption technology that is widely available outside the United States, we uniquely are not allowed to export," said Gates. But, he added: "Overall, I'd say the light hand is working very well.... The basic philosophy of letting the marketplace work has been vindicated." Sen. Charles Robb, D-Va., told Gates that Congress generally supports that light-hand approach, but "we're trying to figure out exactly where and when to intervene or regulate." Gates offered his thoughts on federal antitrust law only after Robb pressed him whether those laws need to be reworked. …

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