Apple makes privacy jab at Google smart city plan

Katherine DeClerq for CTV News Toronto:

A new tongue-in-cheek billboard has appeared across the street from Sidewalk Labs’ headquarters toting Apple’s user privacy policies…

The advertisement popped up amid a call from Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner asking the provincial government to review its laws in preparation for the risks associated with smart cities.

In an annual report, the commissioner said that the technology involved in the project would be able to “collect, use and generate massive amounts of data, including personal information.”

In June, Google’s sister company released an ambitious plan for Toronto’s waterfront, which will feature video cameras and sensors. Sidewalk Labs says the data gathered will help the complex run more efficiently.

That set us thinking, so here’s a report on Google’s plan:

“We heard serious concerns about privacy, boy, did we hear concerns about privacy,” said Doctoroff on Sidewalk’s 18 months of public consultations.

Sidewalk Labs has recommended that an independent, government sanctioned trust be established to set guidelines and oversee data collection, while also committing not to sell personal information or use it for advertising.

The proposal hasn’t been enough for some critics, such as community opponents .BlockSidewalk, which has called for the current development process to be abandoned over governance concerns

MacDailyNews Take: Don’t be evil.


  1. Apple is absolutely correct on all of this, but they too are a problem.
    If it were up to them, you would need an iPhone to even enter the city.

      1. When they lease the user base default to Google, they are.
        I’m speaking to the words on the billboards on the positive side. Lock-in, Lock-out on the negative side.

  2. Fact. Most of the world uses Android smartphones. Most consumers in the world have almost no concerns about security or privacy as long as they get plenty of free services. Apple is wasting its time criticizing Facebook and Google and their use of personal data. Most people would sooner give up their iPhones than give up Facebook. On the internet there are more outcries over how much Apple charges for iPhones than all the data breaches Facebook has had in the past. There would practically be no internet without Google and Android smartphones. Apple threw away their opportunity to dominate the smartphone market and the Chinese smartphone manufacturers have sealed the iPhone’s fate by selling fully-featured affordable Android smartphones to the masses.

    Almost no one will buy an iPhone based on promises of security and privacy and Apple doesn’t seem to understand that. Most people desperately want what Facebook and Google have to offer and they’re willing to make those sacrifices of security and privacy for full services. If there is going to be a smart city with Google collecting everyone’s personal data, I don’t think it will be a problem at all and I’m sure most residents will happily sign up if it makes their life easier.

    Apple’s iPhone market share will continue to shrink because of the high cost of those products. Offering privacy and security will change nothing for Apple. Lowering iPhone prices will. Make iPhones more affordable to the masses and the by-product will be more people having secure and private iPhones. Of course, those people will still likely be using Facebook and Google for those free services because they’ve gotten comfortable with them. I can almost see a day when Facebook is worth more than Apple as they’re more than halfway there already with target prices that should easily zip right past Apple. Tim Cook needs to rethink Apple’s strategy to sell more products rather than tearing down Google or Facebook.

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