Sidewalk Labs’s ambitious smart city plans now face a legal battle


A civil liberties group in Canada is suing three tiers of government over potential privacy issues posed by Sidewalk Labs’s plan to develop a 12-acre smart city in Toronto, which will be approved or denied later this summer. The lawsuit aims to nullify the partnership that Sidewalk Labs, Google’s sibling company, has with the taxpayer-funded organization Waterfront Toronto. (Waterfront Toronto was created jointly by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments.) The Canadian Civil Liberties Association claims that Waterfront Toronto, let alone Sidewalk Labs, doesn’t have the jurisdiction to make rules about people’s privacy.

The government “sold out our constitutional rights to freedom from surveillance and sold it to the global surveillance mammoth of behavioral data collection: Google,” said Michael Bryant, the executive director and general counsel of the CCLA, in a press conference.  The Canadian Civil Liberties Association joined with Toronto resident Lester Brown, who lives next to the Quayside neighborhood that Sidewalk Labs is proposing to develop, in suing the government. “Canada, Toronto, you are the lab rats in Google’s Sidewalk Lab,” Bryant said. “Our job at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association is to say to all three levels of government that Canadians should not be Google’s lab rat. This lab needs to be shut down and reset.”

Read more…