Sunday, September 09, 2007

More Cities Competing With Internet And Cable TV Providers, But Serious Civil Liberty Concerns Exist

The cities of Seattle and San Francisco have both stepped into providing high speed internet service, competing with big private providers such as Comcast. Now the city of Portland Oregon could enter into a huge $500 million dollar project in the near future to provide both high speed internet service and well cable TV that directly competes against the largest local provider, Comcast.

All of this raises some interesting questions. Is government competing with private industry intended to offer better prices for a needed public service or is it overreaching the normal bounds of business? Could government control of both the internet and cable TV possiby lead to some form of government censorship of the content or of the newsreporting itself at some point.

Government competition in both high speed intenet service and cable TV could pressure big private providers like Comcast to improve variable quality of their services such as cable TV, where the quality is often spotty, as well as to push these private providers to offer improved prices that are more competitive. But the question is still raised whether the proper role of government should be in control of so much of the flow of information. And could so much government control of the flow of information such as the internet lead to more easy government examinations of what websites that individual surf or government or police investigations into either critics of the government or who are politically involved in ways not popularly pleasing.

Government control of so much of the media could easily be a dangerous thing as well. Look at the history of many countries with government control of TV, newspapers or other media for example.

Citizens will need some serious limits to the power of government to delve into their private lives or use information about web use to collect data on customers if government becomes involved in so many areas. Serious concerns about civil liberties should lead to some serious protections for citizens who use such government controlled services with the possibility to reveal so much about the perivate lives of the users to government data collection banks.


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