More than a million people wasted no time signing up when a company in Pasadena, Calif., called Free-PC announced it would give away 10,000 Pentium-II computers to customers willing to accept a constant display of advertising in the margin of the computer screen. Free-PC's proposal is similar to that of ZapMe! Corp., which gives away 15 computers with satellite-based internet access to schools in exchange for advertising in the left-hand corner of the monitor.

Such offers mark the emergence of a business model that has privacy advocates concerned and school leaders debating the merits...

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