Thursday, March 24, 2016

LinkNYC privacy concerns

Previous posts about LinkNYC, the city's new network of [free] Wi-Fi hubs, drew a few privacy concerns from readers.

Last week, the New York Civil Liberties Union shared their own privacy concerns with Mayor de Blasio, who officially launched the network on Feb. 18. Here's part of the NYCLU news release:

LinkNYC ... will eventually become a network of as many as 7,500 to 10,000 public kiosks offering fast and free Wi-Fi throughout all five boroughs. The sheer volume of information gathered by this powerful network will create a massive database of information that will present attractive opportunities for hackers and for law enforcement surveillance, and will carry an undue risk of abuse, misuse and unauthorized access.

“Internet access is not a choice, it’s a modern-life necessity,” said Mariko Hirose, senior staff attorney at the NYCLU. “The city’s public Wi-Fi network should set the bar for privacy and security to help ensure that New Yorkers do not have to sacrifice their rights and freedoms to sign online.”

In order to register for LinkNYC, users must submit their e-mail addresses and agree to allow CityBridge to collect information about what websites they visit on their devices, where and how long they linger on certain information on a webpage, and what links they click on. CityBridge’s privacy policy only offers to make “reasonable efforts” to clear out this massive amount of personally identifiable user information, and even then, only if there have been 12 months of user inactivity. New Yorkers who use LinkNYC regularly will have their personally identifiable information stored for a lifetime and beyond.

However, LinkNYC and city spokespeople offered their reassurances to The Huffington Post:

Jen Hensley, general manager of LinkNYC, told The Huffington Post that the company would never sell a user’s private information and that law enforcement doesn’t have unfettered access to the data.

“CityBridge would require a subpoena or similar lawful request before sharing any data with the NYPD or law enforcement, and we will make every effort to communicate government requests to impacted users,” Hensley said.

And Natalie Grybauskas, a spokeswoman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, told HuffPost there are privacy protections in place on the public Wi-Fi system.

“New York City and CityBridge have created customer-first privacy protections to ensure our users’ personal information stays that way — personal,” Grybauskas said.

Ayyway, we learned about all this in an article at The Next Web from Tuesday titled New York has just opened a massive public spying network.

H/T Dr. Bop!


Anonymous said...

Like I always say "nothing is really free" especially in regarding tech services.

nygrump said...

And it adds another layer of electromagnetic pollution that in unprecedented in history. You wonder why everyone is so anxious and pissed off and frustrated all the time its because they are short circuiting our brains with this massive undocumented onslaught of EMF pollution. Don't worry, go have a drink.


Can I run Tails on it?

Advocatus Diaboli said...

“The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities.”

The words of Carter's former national security advisor and foreign policy advisor to Obama, Brzeziński, from ca. 1970, reproduced here for the benefit of those coincidence theorists who think we're just stumbling blindly through history.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't touch this network with a ten foot pole.

Anonymous said...

What a stupid tweet. Has nothing to do with dogs.

Anonymous said...

Who provides low cost internet in NYC?

Anonymous said...

No way am I logging on to that so-called network. Not against having my dog wee on their kiosk though. Yes I am an asshole so what.

Anonymous said...

I often sit on the curb with my laptop and get tons of work done with this free wifi said no one ever.

Anonymous said...

"The scheme already had to abandon part of its proposed advertising effort after a Buzzfeed investigation found that it planned on installing Bluetooth devices that would serve ads straight to people’s phones as they walked by."