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June 19th, 2019

Red Flags on Sidewalk Labs Should Halt Project: NDP

OTTAWA – On Tuesday, NDP Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Ethics Committee, Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay), raised concerns over the Toronto Sidewalk Labs deal. The evidence gathered in recent parliamentary hearings has raised serious questions about the public benefit of this project. In a supplemental report to the committee’s report on privacy and digital government issued yesterday focusing on the controversial Sidewalk Toronto project, Angus says this project should be halted.

“We are talking about an unprecedented extension of surveillance capitalism into the public and private spaces of Canada's largest city,” said Angus. “The proponents have not done credible work of responding to the tremendous concerns raised by both international data experts and the Ontario Auditor General.”

“The development of public space requires a much greater level of public input,” said NDP candidate for Davenport, Andrew Cash. “Sidewalk Toronto is also a risky experiment in turning over public urban space to a huge corporation that hasn’t shown it can be trusted to respect people’s privacy and democratic rights.”

Sidewalk Labs was selected as Waterfront Toronto’s Innovation and Funding Partner for the Quayside development in October 2017, and the Alphabet subsidiary submitted a draft master plan to Waterfront earlier this week.

“Torontonians and Canadians must be skeptical of this project,” said NDP candidate for Toronto—Danforth, Min Sook Lee. “Canadians have a right to live free from being watched all the time by both the government and the private sector. Smart cities can be good, but a privatizing experiment in surveillance capitalism is not the way forward for Toronto, or for Canada.”

“Google has deep pockets and a long memory. They’re not doing this as a charity project, and the business model is constant, total surveillance,” added Angus.