"A civil liberties group in Canada is suing three tiers of government over potential privacy issues posed by Sidewalk Labs's plan to develop a 12-acre smart city in Toronto, which will be approved or denied later this summer," reports Fast Company.
The fight centers around a taxpayer-funded organization jointly created by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments:
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association claims that Waterfront Toronto, let alone Sidewalk Labs, doesn't have the jurisdiction to make rules about people's privacy. The government "sold out our constitutional rights to freedom from surveillance and sold it to the global surveillance mammoth of behavioral data collection: Google," said Michael Bryant, the executive director and general counsel of the CCLA, in a press conference.... "Our job at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association is to say to all three levels of government that Canadians should not be Google's lab rat. This lab needs to be shut down and reset...."
Ann Cavoukian, the former Information and Privacy Commissioner for the Canadian province of Ontario who joined the project early, quit in October 2018. The reason? Sidewalk Labs had decided not to require that all data collected by third parties in the development be instantly de-identified at the source, which would mean that sensitive data like people's faces or license plates could still potentially be used for corporate profit. "I knew the smart city of privacy wasn't going to happen," she says. "That's why I resigned: I said, I can't go along with it...."
"If I was still involved, I'd want more decentralized models of data where the individual could truly retain control of the data," she says, citing a new, privacy-centric model from the web's father, Tim Berners-Lee, to decentralize the web and take back control from the corporations that run it.
In a statement Sidewalk Labs said they favor a data trust run by an independent third party partnering with the government to benefit the community and "spur innovation and investment" while protecting privacy. "Sidewalk Labs fully supports a robust and healthy discussion regarding privacy, data ownership, and governance. But this debate must be rooted in fact, not fiction and fear-mongering."
But the CCLA's web site argues that unlawful surveillance "is wrong whether done by data profiteers or the state." The article also quotes their general counsel's complaint that the government has "outsourced our privacy rights and the supervision of our privacy rights and our surveillance to the very company that's doing the surveillance."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.