Toronto business and government signal full support for Sidewalk Labs' dominance of the city and beyond

Dan Doctoroff and Stephen Diamond could hardly suppress their affection for each other at their January 13 joint luncheon address hosted by the Toronto Region Board of Trade. Read the rest

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

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

Big Tech lobbyists and "open for business" Tories killed Ontario's Right-to-Repair legislation

In February, Liberal Party opposition MPP Michael Coteau introduced Right to Repair legislation after he was charged $400 to fix the cracked screen on his daughter's Samsung phone; that bill is now dead, as are dozens of Right to Repair bills introduced in US state houses, after Conservative MPs, heavily lobbied by US Big Tech firms, killed it before it could proceed to committee. 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

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

Ontario court rules that Uber can't use arbitration to keep its drivers from suing it

The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that Uber can't use binding arbitration "agreements" to stop its drivers from joining a class action suit against the company; the court held that the arbitration clause was "illegally outsourcing an employment standard." Read the rest

Sorting the spin from the facts: how big can the surveilling city that Sidewalk Labs plans for Toronto get?

Cory published a writeup of my research showing Google offshoot Sidewalk Labs’ plan to build a surveilling city in Toronto involves a much, much larger chunk of land than publicly disclosed (in fact about 2,600 acres of prime Toronto waterfront!). It flushed out a response from the high-priced US PR firm Berlin Rosen, apparently acting on behalf of Sidewalk Labs: Read the rest

Toronto 2033: science fiction writers imagine the city of the future

Toronto 2033 is a shared-world science fiction anthology edited by the incomparable and multi-talented Jim Munroe (previously), where authors like Zainab Amadahy, Madeline Ashby, Al Donato, Kristyn Dunnion, Elyse Friedman, Paul Hong, Elan Mastai, Mari Ramsawakh, Karl Schroeder and Peter Watts were challenged to imagine a future for the city. Read the rest

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. Read the rest