An interesting thing happened recently in the ongoing saga that is Google's attempt, through its subsidiary Sidewalk Labs, to build a private, fully surveilled microcity inside of Toronto. The privacy expert Google had hired to assuage concerns over the dangers of a neighborhood built to collect data on its inhabitants, has stepped down.
A year into Google's efforts to build a mini "smart city" on Toronto's waterfront, Ann Cavoukian, the former privacy commissioner for the province of Ontario, announced that she was leaving her role as a consultant for the project. "I imagined us creating a Smart City of Privacy, as opposed to a Smart City of Surveillance," she explained in a letter. "Your personal information, your privacy is critical," Cavoukian has said. "It is not just a fundamental human right. It forms the foundation of our freedom."
It's commendable, this repudiation of Google on behalf of fundamental rights but also rather astounding if we're being honest—and charitable—to imagine a privacy expert believing that Google had ever planned to build anything other than a smart city of surveillance.