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News Release: No More Federal Funding to Sidewalk Labs

News Release: No More Federal Funding to Sidewalk Labs

June 24th, 2019
Undated photo from Sidewalk Labs handout showing the eastern waterfront of Toronto.

Toronto – The federal government should put an immediate stop payment on infrastructure and other sources of federal support for Sidewalk Labs because they are funding Google’s conquest of Canada’s democracy, according to the watchdog group FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting.

Google’s plan for Sidewalk Toronto released earlier today is a bald proposal to replace Waterfront Toronto, a body established by our duly elected governments, amid growing discord between them.

“Google is saying they will build our cities and run them instead of the governments we elect. Every new development confirms our fear that this project is all about Big Tech’s ambitious plan to monetize the public sphere, and control it. We should all be worried,” says FRIENDS’ spokesperson Daniel Bernhard.

“Leadership isn't about asking corporations how our city should be governed. Torontonians, and all Canadians, need to decide for themselves how the new data economy ought to be regulated, so that it reflects our values and serves our interests. In the absence of that, this project should be killed” says Bernhard.

Companies like Facebook, Google, Netflix, Uber and Airbnb are perfecting “surveillance capitalism”, where privacy infringements are magnified by outsized corporations that can overpower sovereign states. In Canada, that means overriding the democratic process.

“Do these companies operate in the public interest? Not even remotely. And Canada is failing to protect itself. Canadian governments allow big U.S. tech firms to call the shots. Our leaders are doing everything possible not to lead,” Bernhard says.

Sovereignty is the ability to make your own choices, yet we’re giving it up to Big Tech – on a silver platter.

Other major cities are pushing back against Big Tech’s conquest of public governance. New York is kicking Amazon out of Queens. Berlin is giving Google the boot. Obviously, cities like those would not provide a hospitable home for what Google proposes.

“For Sidewalk to succeed, Google needed to find the most compliant government possible: one that would gladly surrender sovereignty to a private American corporation. Google needed a pushover, and clearly it determined that of all governments on Earth, Canada was the biggest pushover. Waterfront Toronto has ceased to behave like a government agency, preferring to act as Google’s development agent instead.” Bernhard concludes.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is a watchdog group advocating for Canadian public broadcasting, journalism and storytelling on air, and online. Friends enjoys the support of 364,000 Canadians and is not affiliated with any broadcaster or political party.

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Media contact: Jim Thompson [email protected] 613-447-9592

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