Privacy anxieties hounding Toronto's Quayside development

Privacy anxieties hounding Toronto's Quayside development

Privacy anxieties hounding Toronto


A civil liberties group has called for a judicial review of the Quayside project by Sidewalk Labs in Toronto, amid long-standing concerns about data privacy and the smart city’s sensor-laden design.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association along with Toronto resident Lester Brown, filed an application with the Superior Court of Justice. They are seeking to revoke any agreements established between Sidewalk Labs and the city.

“Waterfront Toronto, and our federal, provincial and municipal governments sold-out our constitutional rights to freedom from surveillance and sold it to the global behemoth of behavioural data collection Google,” CCLA executive director and general counsel Michael Bryant said, as quoted by The Star.

“Google and their competitors take that stuff about us and they sell it to businesses who make bets on what we will buy.”

Privacy fears have been intensified by Sidewalk’s publicly stated plans to expand similarly sensor-suffused communities into the Port Lands, in the event that Quayside proves to be a success.

Sidewalk Labs refuted the CCLA’s allegations, saying that the claims are based on unfounded paranoia.

The Alphabet Inc. subsidiary assured that it is “strongly committed to the protection and privacy of urban data.” The company added that it will not be monetizing the data, and that it will depersonalize all such information collected by the sensors.

“It’s unfortunate that once again the CCLA has chosen to mischaracterize our work and our engagement with the people of Toronto,” spokesperson Keerthana Rang said in a statement.

“In fact, we’ve been clear in our belief that decisions about the collection and use of urban data should be up to an independent data trust which we are proposing for the Quayside project.”