Advisor quits Google Toronto's "smart city" project over privacy concerns

Google sister company Sidewalk Labs is building a creepy, heavily surveilled "smart city" in the midst of Toronto.

Critics have pointed out that letting a foreign corporation gather continuous surveillance data on residents of a city as they go about their daily round is a bit, you know, dystopian.

Sidewalk Labs says it's not creepy, and to prove it, they've recruited an independent advisory board to keep them honest.

A key member of that board just resigned: Saadia Muzaffar is an entrepreneur and tech activist. In her scathing resignation letter, she describes an unholy confluence of Sidewalk Labs's greed for data-collection and the City of Toronto's indifference, expressed by the lackadaisical approach taken by Waterfront Toronto.

In her resignation letter, Muzaffar—who founded the nonprofit group TechGirls Canada—also criticized a lack of transparency on Waterfront Toronto's part in communicating the plan to the public. Even more importantly, she drew attention to the risk of entrenching ill-considered surveillance technology in city infrastructure.

"Broad licensing that does not prioritize digital rights of the public can mean that surveillance infrastructure and valuable public data can lay latent for long periods of time, and avoid scrutiny easily, tucked in a foreign-owned company's proprietary vault," she wrote.

Advisor to Google's Smart City in Toronto Resigns Over Data Concerns [Jordan Pearson/Motherboard]