The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), a civil society dedicated to defending Canadian rights and freedoms, has threatened legal action against Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs in a recent letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and Toronto Mayor John Tory.

The reason for their letter stems from a high-tech neighborhood that Sidewalk Labs has proposed for the Quayside.

In the three-page letter, the CCLA calls for a reset of the project before Waterfront Toronto – formally known as the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation – moves forward with a partner; including but not limited to Sidewalk Labs, a company backed by Google parent firm Alphabet Inc.

Citing risks of surveillance capitalism on the streets of Toronto, they say that the decisions made to date have been unconstitutional and contrary to statute, common law, and administrative law.

“CCLA submits that Sidewalk Toronto and the Quayside project should be reset, with your ‘creation,’ Waterfront Toronto, issuing no new Quayside RFP until all three levels of government, after adequate public consultation, have established digital data governance policies for the appropriate collection, ownership, use and residency of personal information and other data obtained from public places in any embedded sensor laden, data harvesting Smart City contemplated for Quayside,” said the letter.

They claim that Waterfront Toronto has gone outside its responsibilities, given away powers to a private enterprise that they say cannot legally be given away, and have begun operating in a manner which would require government green-lighting – power that Waterfront Toronto doesn’t have.

“What are the Charter risks? We believe that the Waterfront Toronto-Sidewalk Labs Framework Agreement and the Plan Development Agreement (“PDA”) contemplate a non-consensual, state-authorized mass capture of Canadians’ personal information. As such, the Charter is engaged and breached: namely, Canadians’ right to privacy under the Charter, section 2 (fundamental freedoms of assembly and association), section 7 (life, liberty and security of the person), and section 8 (unreasonable search or seizure). The PDA also violates privacy statutes applicable to Waterfront Toronto, which is not above the law.”

You can read the full three-page letter here.

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