’Womb to Tomb’ Surveillance Concerns with Smart Cities
The Information and Privacy Commissioner’s view of smart cities and legal and privacy implications of the use of technologies in that space is to be provided in this keynote address.
Marshall McLuhan’s concerns about “womb to tomb surveillance” are echoed in many current discussions about smart cities. The technologies that make up smart cities involve the use of multiple surveillance devices, such as video surveillance, audio, and other sensors, or automated license plate recognition, to name a few. It is no longer the case that there is just one or two discrete technologies to consider. The surveillance threat is magnified when technologies are connected to mobile devices and the Internet of Things; not only environmental data but also the personal data of individuals who interact with, or even walkthrough, the space. The parameters of data collection and use are not always explicitly explained, meaning that individuals are not likely aware of what their collected data is being used for. This can have serious implications for individuals’ privacy rights and data ownership.
The discussion will elicit thought-provoking issues related to the value of personal data for the government and for the individual. It will explore whether privacy and data collection regulation can mitigate the pitfalls of living in a connected and interconnected world.
However, privacy does not have to be a barrier to smart cities. It is possible to protect privacy while realizing the benefits that flow from data collection practices to support analytics and urban planning. I will aim to shed light on the practical issues and implications of data governance, while also acknowledging that when done properly digitally enabled cities can make life more sustainable, environmentally friendly, technologically advanced, and inclusive. While it is widely recognized that Ontario’s privacy laws are in need of modernization, they also do provide a strong foundation for the protection of privacy.