Will the price of community Wi-Fi be a privacy divide?

One of those conditions is that anyone who wants high-speed access will have to pay roughly $25 per month for it. So the only free wi-fi will be slow and spotty. Another condition is that Google will provide the software side of this free wi-fi network, potentially serving up location-based ads and keeping track of where people are when they log on the network….Just for the sake of argument, however, let’s assume that EarthLink does manage to deliver wi-fi to low-income communities and that members of those communities can afford to get wi-fi-ready computers. Given that there are so few privacy protections in the EarthLink contract, I worry that we may close one digital divide only to open another….Already, it’s easy for a company like Google to track what users do online and sell that information to the highest bidder. What happens when companies link that capability with the ability to know where users are physically when they log onto the wi-fi network? We might see a new era in racial profiling, where Google or companies like it sell information to police about what people in black neighborhoods are searching for online. If anybody does a suspicious search for “drugs” or “the Nation of Islam,” that person could easily become the object of a fishing expedition by police.

Read Annalee Newitz’ article Is Digital Racial Profiling on Tap? from Alternet

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Filed under Community WiFi, Broadband, Digital Divide, Privacy, The Politics of New Media

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