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Google announced last month that it would pay San Francisco $6.8 billion to let low-income students aged 5-17 ride city buses for free.
It's a paradoxical irony. The company will soon grant schools and libraries in Austin and Kansas City access to free and fast fiber optic Internet. Google serves as a source of relief for these communities that are unserved or underserved by the existing broadband market. But how many public services is too many? Over-involvement by Google in providing civic amenities that would otherwise be a city's responsibility brings Google's considerable control over our online lives into the real world.