Talking with the Left Field podcast about Sidewalk Labs's plan to build a surveilling "smart city" in Toronto

We've been closely following the plan by Google sister company Sidewalk Labs to build a surveilling "smart city" in Toronto; last week, I sat down with the Out of Left Field podcast (MP3) to discuss what's going on with Sidewalk Labs, how it fits into the story of Big Tech, and what the alternatives might be. Read the rest

Public treated to obfuscation at Waterfront Toronto meeting on negotiations with Google sister company over surveillance district

[Rosemary Frei is an independent journalist who broke the story that Google's Sidewalk Labs had quietly sewn up the rights to turn most of Toronto's lakeshore into a surveilling "smart city" (Google/Sidewalk lied about this at first, were cornered, admitted it, and rolled back the plan). Now she's back with a report on last night's "Public Update on Quayside" meeting, where any hope anyone nursed that Google would be pursuing humane urbanism, rather than surveillance and extraction, were firmly dashed. -Cory]

At Waterfront Toronto’s first meeting for the public after its board of directors voted Oct. 31 to continue negotiating with Sidewalk Labs on the parameters of a 12-acre surveillance district, officials from the public agency made it clear they’re already wedded to the Google sister company.

The hundreds of attendees of last night’s ‘Public Update on Quayside’ were each given a package that included a copy of an Oct. 29 letter from Waterfront Toronto President and CEO George Zegarac to Sidewalk Labs’s Chief Development Officer Josh Sirefman. Zegarac lays out in the letter how the two bodies will work closely together -- with Waterfront Toronto taking the lead in on such things as negotiations with all three levels of government – to "develop an ‘Innovation Plan’ to advance and achieve Waterfront Toronto’s priority outcomes." Based on this newly arrived at ‘realignment of Master Innovation and Development Plan threshold issues,’ Waterfront Toronto’s final decision on whether to proceed with the plan will be taken by its board by March 31, 2020. Read the rest

Sidewalk Labs' quiet plan for Canada's banks to manage a national digital ID for health care and housing

[I'm delighted to welcome Lilian Radovac back for another excellent piece on the digital surveillance shenanigans in Canada, which aren't always as showy as their stateside counterparts, but are every bit as worrying. In this piece, Radovac reveals the buried plan for a finance-sector managed, all-surveilling National ID card buried in the latest massive wedge of largely unread documents from Google spin-out Sidewalk Labs (previously) that is building a controversial, privatised city-within-a-city in Toronto -Cory]

In Sidewalk Toronto news, Sidewalk Labs has finally released its Master Innovation and Development Plan Digital Innovation Appendix. As with the 1,524 page MIDP before it, there's a lot to read in the DIA but a few excerpts already stand out.

Toronto approves Google's surveillance city, despite leaks revealing Orwellian plans

Yesterday, Waterfront Toronto unanimously approved the continuation of Sidewalk Labs's plans for "Quayside," a privatised, surveillance-oriented "smart city" that has been mired in controversy since its earliest days, including secret bullying campaigns, mass resignations of privacy advisors, lies that drastically understated the scope of the project, civil liberties lawsuits, and denunciations by the indigenous elders who were consulted on the project. Read the rest

Leaked document reveals that Sidewalk Labs' Toronto plans for private taxation, private roads, charter schools, corporate cops and judges, and punishment for people who choose privacy

Tomorrow, Toronto's City Council will hold a key vote on Sidewalk Labs's plan to privatize much of the city's lakeshore in the name of creating a "smart city" owned by Google's parent company, Alphabet. Read the rest

Canada's election, in which Justin Trudeau's chickens come home to roost

Justin Trudeau is not your woke bae, he's just Joe Biden with abs: there's no policy so progressive that JT won't endorse it, provided that he never has to do anything to make good on that endorsement, which is how JT ended up being complicit in the #MuslimBan, making Canada's Patriot Act much worse, bailing out the Transcanada pipeline so in service to Alberta's filthy, planet-destroying tar sands, abandoning his promises for indigenous reconciliation, rescuing the giant Saudi arms deal, caving to Trump on NAFTA 2.0, and putting partisanship ahead of justice to get a corrupt, giant engineering company off the hook, throwing his indigenous Attorney General under the bus in order to preserve his relationship with a giant party donor. Read the rest

Profiles in criminal Canadian bumblefuckery: Canadaland on the Ford Family

Dynasties is the latest special series from Canadaland Commons, a podcast that deeply investigates the sleazy, dysfunctional wealthy dynasties that dominate Canadian politics, media and business. Read the rest

Billionaire newspaper monopolist family cancels editorial cartoonist after anti-Trump drawing

Canada's Irving family is one of the richest in the world, owning more land than anyone except the British royals and the Catholic church; they also own virtually all the media in New Brunswick, as well as the industries that those newspapers cover, and they augment their media control over the public discourse with a ruthless approach to their critics. Read the rest

Countries with longer copyright terms have access to fewer books (pay attention, Canada!)

Rebecca Giblin (previously) writes, "We've just dropped a new study we've been working on for a year. You know how it keeps being claimed that we need longer copyrights because nobody will invest in making works available if they're in the public domain? Heald and some others have done some great work debunking that in the US context, but now we've finally tested this hypothesis in other countries by looking at the relative availability of ebooks to libraries. It's also the first time anyone has been able to compare availability of identical works (by significant authors) across jurisdictions. The books we sampled were all in the public domain in Canada and NZ, all under copyright in Australia, and a mix in the US (courtesy of its historical renewal system)." Read the rest

The Canadian government has released the surprisingly sensible results of its extensive, year-long review of copyright law

[Editor's note: Whenever governments review their copyright, one of two things happens: either they only listen to industry reps and then come to the "conclusion" that more copyright is always better; or they listen to stakeholders and experts and conclude that a little goes a long way. Normally, when the latter happens, the government that commissioned the report buries it out of terror of powerful Big Content lobbyists. This time, miraculously, an eminently sensible Canadian report has seen the light of day. I was delighted to invite the legendary Canadian copyright scholar Michael Geist to present a short analysis of some of the important conclusions. -Cory]

The Canadian government launched an extensive review of its copyright law last year that led to months of study and attracted hundreds of witnesses and briefs. While some groups hoped the review would lead to new website blocking measures and restrictions on fair dealing (Canada's version of fair use), the Industry committee report released this week actually recommends expanding fair dealing, rejects site blocking without a court order, and rejects proposals to exclude education from fair dealing where a licence is otherwise available. The study covers a wide range of copyright issues, but its conclusions on fair dealing, digital locks, site blocking, and term extension are particularly noteworthy. Read the rest

Canadian Civil Liberties Association sues Toronto, Ontario, and Canada over the plan for a Google Sidewalk Labs "smart city" in Toronto

Sidewalk Labs is the division of Alphabet/Google that builds "smart city" technology; their most ambitious project to date is a massive privatised city-within-a-city planned for Toronto's lakeshore -- a project that received secretly approval to be much larger than was announced, a fact that Sidewalk lied about. Read the rest

On the eve of a contentious election, Twitter suspends the accounts of progressive activists

Today, Alberta is having one of its bitterest, hardest-fought elections, with far-right/xenophobic elements on the upswing through the United Conservative Party, led by Jason Kenney, who has been awfully cavalier about the white nationalists in his party. Read the rest

Ontario's low-budget Trump-alike wants to eliminate sedation for people getting colonoscopies

Doug Ford (previously) is the trumpian buffoon elected to the office of Premier of Ontario by rural voters who never experienced his laughable bumblefuckery firsthand (the people of Toronto -- who suffered under his tenure on city council while his asshole crackhead brother was mayor -- resoundingly voted against him). Read the rest

Ontario parliamentarian calls for Right to Repair legislation

Michael Coteau, a member of the Ontario provincial parliament from the opposition Liberal party has announced for provincial Right to Repair legislation, which he will introduce in a private member's bill -- he says the legislation was prompted when he was charged nearly $400 to fix his daughter's Samsung phone screen and he recalled a CBC special on US efforts to pass Right to Repair laws at the state level; Coteau says he's looking for co-sponsors from the NDP and the ruling Conservative Party (whose caucus is a disgraceful shambles). Read the rest

Toronto cops can frequently get your public transit history without a warrant

Metrolinx, the provincial agency that supplies the Presto cards used to pay for public transit rides in Toronto, has continued to hand over riders' travel history to Toronto-area cops without asking for a warrant. Read the rest

A month after the statutory restoration of expat Canadians' voting rights, Supreme Court says taking those rights away was illegal

In 2015, Stephen Harper's Tory government began enforcing a 1993 law that stripped expatriate citizens like me of our right to vote in Canada; last month, Justin Trudeau's Liberal government restored our voting rights. Read the rest

Bell Canada asks Canadians for permission to harvest and sell their browsing, location, viewing and other data

Bell Canada is the giant, diversified former national monopoly carrier that has been allowed to buy magazines, TV channels, and other users of its infrastructure, violating the cardinal separation of telcoms between services and carriers. Read the rest

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