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Government info service sold

The Florida Business Network becomes the first privately owned online governmental information system in Florida, raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest.

The Florida Business Network today became the first privately owned online governmental information system in Florida, raising some concerns about potential conflicts of interest.

The network today announced its agreement to buy Legi-Tech's online Florida Legislative Reporter guide for an undisclosed amount. The deal calls for the network to honor all FLR contracts and conditions without change, including price.

The network's features includes information on Florida business legislation, meeting analyses, issues, summaries, proposals, and news articles from around the state. Lawmakers, attorneys, business people, and journalists increasingly depend on timely, comprehensive delivery of this material online.

To some observers, it raised concerns about consolidation in the information delivery business that could reduce choice for consumers. But most online experts were reserving judgment, seeing consolidation as inevitable, particularly in niche markets such as receiving government news online.

Privately owned networks often raise questions and concerns by political experts, such as Gary Selno, a professor at San Francisco State University.

"There is nothing wrong with this kind of information as long as it's purely objective," he said. "But if it leans to one side of an issue and taxpayers are paying for it, then it's an outrage."