Note — Oct 07, 2018

Sidewalk Toronto Has only One Beneficiary, and It Is Not Toronto

Adding to the chorus against the deal. I’m taking note of it because it’s by Jim Balsillie, a former chairman and co-CEO of Research In Motion (Blackberry), who’s bio here mentions that he “commercialized Canadian intellectual property in more than 150 countries.” Somewhat unusually for a smartcity piece, his opinion is framed around, and insist repeatedly on, Intellectual Property, referring multiple times to “IP and data.” The last quote below is quite a good encapsulation of the situation.

You can only commercialize IP or data when you own or control them. That’s why Sidewalk, as a recent Globe and Mail investigation revealed , is taking control to own all IP on this project. […]

A privately controlled “smart city” infrastructure upends traditional models of citizenship because you cannot opt out of a city or a society that practises mass surveillance. Foreign corporate interests tout new technocratic efficiencies while shrewdly occluding their unprecedented power grab. […]

A year later, we are at a point where a secretive, unelected, publicly funded corporation with no expertise in IP, data or even basic digital rights is in charge of navigating forces of urban privatization, algorithmic control and rule by corporate contract.

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