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Venture capitalist Roger McNamee calls for end to Sidewalk Labs development

TORONTO — A prominent technology investor is adding his voice to those calling on Toronto to abandon the Sidewalk Labs development on the city’s waterfront. 

Venture capitalist Roger McNamee, who was an early investor in Facebook and other technology giants, writes in a letter to Toronto city council ahead of a Thursday meeting that the project is a “dystopian vision that has no place in a democratic society.”

McNamee, who has been a vocal critical of the tech industry in recent years over data and privacy concerns, says the smart city project is a highly evolved version of surveillance capitalism that gives too much power and control to the project’s backer Alphabet Inc., parent company of Google.

BlockSidewalk, a group looking to stop the project, sent a letter to the Waterfront Toronto board earlier this week asking it to not even assess the development plan Sidewalk Labs is expected to submit in the coming weeks.

The group says the structure of the deal is fatally flawed, and that it will be taking its campaign to city council when it hears an update on the project Thursday.

Sidewalk Labs has said in the past that it hopes to set a new standard in responsible data use, and plans to have a independent trust manage the data generated by the smart city development.


The Canadian Press

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