You have got to be kidding me. You know, I love my city and I think it’s great that everyone is as concerned as they are about doing the right thing and double-checking repercussions, but this is ridiculous.
Some background: San Francisco’s mayor said he wanted to get free wifi for the city in 2004, because poor people were getting left behind yet again. Google basically walked up and said “Look, we can give you free ad-supported internet access for everybody in the city. You can use it or not, if you do we’re gonna use all our superseekrit ad-targeting biz on you just like we do online, ‘cept more so seeing as how we can triangulate you and see what you’re doing even if you aren’t logged in to an account with us. Or you can not use it. Up to you, but ads are what we do and they work better the more we know about you so we do that too.” Fairly straightforward. Use it with no privacy or don’t use it, pretty much. SF complained and got Google to agree to lose the triangulating part, or at least make it optional. Keep in mind that the pay services currently in existence won’t go away, this is an addition to what is already available.
Okay, so we’re ready to go now right? No. SFist has a brief summary today of the discussion that is still ongoing (and likely to slow things down even further). There’s also an article on MuniWireless. Personally, I’m enormously frustrated. The entire debate has morphed from how to get free wireless to largest number of people into how the city can profit from it. How about approving the plan now and then putting all this effort into transitioning to public-owned wifi after the contract expires? At the rate government bodies move, it will take 16 years to have that in place anyway.