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.
There are many software tools that people use to protect their privacy online, but will impoverished people on the free wi-fi network know about them or be able to use them over slow connections? The new digital divide won't be between people who can get online and those who can't; instead, it will be between people who can afford to create privacy for themselves on the Web and those who don't have the resources to do it. *
Annalee Newitz is a surly media nerd who wants everybody to have equal access to both the Internet and digital privacy.