Friday, March 18, 2016

After New York launches free public wifi, privacy advocates complain it’s building ‘massive database’

When New York started replacing its pay phones with wifi kiosks in January, the new free internet access was met with a great deal of excitement, particularly over the network’s speed. The beta launch included just a dozen wifi hubs, but the city plans to convert 7,500 phone booths over the next few years so that free wifi is as ubiquitous as the yellow taxi in New York. But now, concerns about privacy are beginning to emerge.

On Wednesday, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) accused the city of using its new public wifi system, LinkNYC, to “build a massive database,” complaining that the company behind the program, CityBridge, can keep a vast amount of information about wifi users, per its privacy policy.

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.


http://fusion.net/story/281767/linknyc-nyclu-privacy/

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