Last week news broke from Western Washington station KIRO 7 News that the plan to install kiosks with free Wi-Fi and create bus stops with Wi-Fi in Seattle was stopped by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. The mayor’s spokesperson told KIRO 7 she had concerns about privacy. We understand that the mayor’s decision to no longer pursue the Wi-Fi kiosks was first reported by The Urbanist.
Stephanie Formas, Mayor Durkan’s Spokesperson told KIRO 7, we quote “The City of Seattle has always been the city of the future and is actively seeking ways to innovate and become a truly ‘Smart City’. Currently, the city is not actively negotiating on the proposed electronic kiosks. Because of her background working on privacy issues from decades, Mayor Durkan strong believes that any proposals using city right-of-way must adequately protect users’ privacy and data and uphold net neutrality principles while ensuring that any such program advances equity for communities throughout Seattle”.
Intersection had proposed a plan to the city in 2016 that would pay the City of Seattle USD 97-167 million dollars for exclusive access for ‘Link’ units in Seattle for the next 20 years. Intersection’s proposal informed the city that they could likely make another USD 100 million in ad revenue during that same period.
The ACLU, billed as North America’s premier civil rights and civil liberties organization, applauded Mayor Durkan’s decision to scrap the plan. Shankar Narayan, ACLU-WA Director, Technology and Liberty Project said “When a deal seems too good to be true and there isn’t any appreciable product, the privacy of individuals, and individuals themselves are the product. In Seattle we haven’t made decisions to put cameras on every corner, it’s certainly been raised, but no, we don’t want that because that infringes on peoples’ rights to go about in public without being surveilled by their government.”
Our comment is that the industry, and its associations has got a lot of work to do, in order to convince civil liberties groups, city officials etc. that cameras and location based technology is not necessary the evil they think it is. TO BE DISCUSSED.