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Smart cities

Activists are suing Canada over plans to build a smart city in Toronto

April 18, 2019

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has filed a legal challenge against all three levels of the country’s government in a bid to put a stop to the scheme led by Sidewalk Labs, a Google subsidiary.

Specifically: The lawsuit seeks to end a contract between Waterfront Toronto (a municipal organization) and Sidewalk Labs that would see the two work together to build a futuristic, sensor-filled neighborhood in the city. Proposals include traffic lights that track pedestrians, robots that transport garbage through underground tunnels, and driverless shuttle buses.

However: The proposals were met with concern right from the start, and the CCLA says the plans would violate individuals’ rights to privacy. The lawsuit questions whether “meaningful consent” can really be gained for the scheme, which it says will in effect amount to constant surveillance.

What’s next: In a statement, Waterfront Toronto said the scheme is too early in its progress for CCLA’s claims to be assessed. We’ll have to wait and see whether Ontario’s judges agree.

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