Ontario privacy commissioner says smart cities privacy ‘must be front and centre’

The statement comes amidst a series of smart city developments taking place in the province

sidewalk labs

Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner Brian Beamish believes that privacy and security need to be part of the discussions surrounding smart city projects in the province.

In an April 26th, 2018 media release, Beamish wrote that “privacy and security of citizens must be front and centre in smart city projects.”

Beamish also wrote that his office is looking forward to “working with Infrastructure Canada to ensure privacy protection is an integral part of the Smart Cities Challenge.”

“Smart city projects have the potential to unlock benefits for communities and improve public services using data and connected technologies, but these advancements should not come at the expense of privacy,” said Beamish, in the same April release.

“Under Ontario’s access and privacy laws, individuals have a right to know how their information is being collected, used, and disclosed. To protect these rights, privacy cannot be an afterthought.”

Beamish’s statement comes amidst a series of smart city ventures taking place across Ontario — most notably, the Sidewalk Toronto venture between Waterfront Toronto and Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs urban development firm.

Executives from Sidewalk Labs have previously expressed their support for pro-privacy and information security measures, including head of urban development Rohit Aggarwala.

“What matters in a city is when people feel comfortable, people feel respected, people feel a sense of ownership in that place,” said Aggarwala, in a March 20th, 2018 presentation at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. “And they can’t do that if they feel they’re being monitored for the wrong reasons or for any reasons.”

Source: Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario