A funny thing happened on the way to the Breaker report: Worlds collided. All of a sudden the headlines were filled with talk about government intervention, private property, proprietary technology, public interest, and open access. Another battle in the ongoing war between AT&T (NYSE: T), Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM), and America Online (NYSE: AOL) over cable Internet services? You might think so. But not this time. Today it was Celera Genomics (NYSE: CRA) at the center of the commotion, its stock reacting badly to undigested news.

Celera and the publicly funded Human Genome Project have been discussing a collaboration that would speed completion of human genome mapping and reveal a complete set of chromosomes, including the human DNA sequence. More than just completing the research, however, the idea was to make the data public. That data is at the heart of Celera's business, and will eventually be used to prevent disease and produce new drugs and medicines that would otherwise be impossible. The discussions have fallen apart in recent days over the details of when and how the data would be released.

For its part, the policy of the Human Genome Project is to get this gene-mapping data into the public domain as quickly as possible to better realize the full potential and benefits of the research. Celera is all for this. The difficulty is in balancing that goal against Celera's commercial rights to license and profit from the distribution of its data and from any products that might result. Celera is concerned that combining its private and proprietary research with publicly funded work would lead to its use by competitors and preempt its own commercial interests.

Into all this stepped President Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair who agreed earlier today that "raw fundamental data on the human genome" from government laboratories should be openly shared and made "freely available" to scientists everywhere. They said in a joint statement that "Unencumbered access to this information will promote discoveries that will reduce the burden of disease, improve health around the world, and enhance the quality of life for all humankind."

Although Celera went unnamed, it welcomed the statement, which tried to address the company's concerns with a nod to "intellectual property protection for gene-based inventions," noting the role such protection plays in "stimulating the development" of new health care products. In other words, investment incentive and profit motive.

Chromosomes. Genes. DNA. That's the stuff that makes us tick. Our internal infrastructure, so to speak. And reading about all this today I was struck by the similarities between the latest issues surrounding Celera in the biotech industry and some of the outstanding issues in Internet space, particularly those between AT&T, Excite@Home, and America Online over the management and status of the nation's telecommunications infrastructure. The players are different. And certainly the products are different. But so many of the key elements are the same.

Both situations involve the public impact of privately funded technology and conflicting views on how it should be used in the public interest. They touch on the relationship between the government and private enterprise. Celera has in effect been negotiating a partnership with the government. Thousands of cable franchise agreements have already partnered AT&T and Excite@Home with governments at a different level, while AOL and its allies have been lobbying those same town halls from the other side. And of course, they all lobby the Federal Communications Commission for just the right touch of the government intervention they would other wise shun.

For more on today's news in the biotech world, see Jeff Fischer's story in Fool News.