Gates urges tech industry to preserve user privacy

Exec opens CES with keynote address

LAS VEGAS — Microsoft CEO Bill Gates opened the annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with a plea for hardware and software developers to preserve the privacy of consumers as electronic devices become increasingly interconnected.

In his keynote address Wendesday evening to a standing-room-only crowd at the Las Vegas Hilton theater, Gates talked about where technology has been over the last 20 years, and where it is going.

“We need to look forward to what comes next,” Gates said. “Technology is increasing.”

He said that as devices increase, software will be developed to link them together. “Don’t make it too complicated,” he added. “Empower people and preserve their privacy.”

His speech was received with enthusiastic applause.

Today, following a morning keynote by Eric Benhamou, chairman and CEO of 3Com, the show kicks into high gear, showcasing the newest trends, strategies and profit opportunities in the consumer technology industry.

Sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association, the four-day meeting features more than 1,500 exhibitors. More than 90,000 attendees are expected.

Total consumer electronics sales are projected to hit a record $85 billion in 2000, the eighth consecutive year of growth for the industry. This compares with total sales in 1999 and 1998 of $81 billion and $75 billion respectively.

Today’s show also features a keynote by Scott McNealy, chairman and CEO of Sun Microsystems.

A broad range of seminars will focus on topics that include digital entertainment convergence, broadband entertainment programming and content development, and the future of consumer computing.

Live webcasts of CES will be available over the Internet through Saturday. CES continues through Sunday.

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