The post Does Municipal Wi-Fi Have the Incentive for Security? by Cord Blomquist over at TLF is another subterfuge for corporate welfare, carefully disguised. (Although he has picked up on the Headline as a question thing.) But, in the course of the debate he makes a really key observation that I almost overlooked.
First, he starts out with the seemingly plausible statement that perhaps municipalities don’t have as strong a motivation to provide strong security as private companies do:
USA Today reports that most are unaware of the dangers facing them at public Wi-Fi hotspots, which brought to mind an interesting question about municipal Wi-Fi. What incentive is there for municipalities to provide encryption and other security technologies?
The article mentions that AT&T and T-Mobile are the largest providers of free Wi-Fi hookups in the country and although the Wi-Fi itself is unsecured, both companies encourage the use of freely provided encryption software. The incentives for both companies seem fairly obvious. If people are going to be Wi-Fi users they need to feel safe and encryption technology is a way to do this. Customers stay safe and continue to use the service, making AT&T T-Mobile and other providers money.
Do municipal setups have the same incentives? Depending on the financial structure of such a system I can see how there would be little incentive to provide security software or other safeguards to users. Yet these Muni-Fi services would still distort the market, making it less likely for companies—that might be affected by privacy concerns—to invest in those areas.
After much discussion by others, the discusion moves away from the security question (red herring!), and to the real issue, which is that stuff like free municipally-provided Wi-Fii isn’t allowed under that good ole free market religion.
I ask then: Well, Cord, if Municipalities shouldn’t be in the Wi-Fi business, why should they be in the library business?
Both efforts have very similar aims, and libraries ‘compete’ with bookstores and video rental establishments, right?
Continue reading “Cord B. makes an important discovery, other than the fact that Municipalities don’t owe Verizon a market for Wi-Fi…”