Walking away from Sidewalk

Walking away from Sidewalk

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A leading privacy expert has exited Alphabet’s headline smart city project in Toronto. Ann Cavoukian, Ontario's former privacy commissioner, resigned from Alphabet unit Sidewalk Labs following a meeting between the company and Waterfront TO, the organisation charged with overseeing the smart city on Toronto’s lakeshore.

Cavoukian says that while Sidewalk will take all personal identifiers out of the data it collects for the initiative, it was not able to guarantee that other groups in the project would do likewise.

Her role had been to support Sidewalk’s privacy-protecting measures into the design of the new area where it plans to collect huge amounts of data.

A member of advisory panel to the project recently resigned citing apathy and a lack of leadership the part of Waterfront TO, while also accusing it of dodging questions around privacy and intellectual property.

Sidewalk is advocating that an independent civic data trust become the steward of urban data collected in the physical environment. This body would approve and control the collection of, and manage access to, urban data originating in there.

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