Several aspects of our lives have gone digital. Our mode of communication, transport, finance, and even feeding have been revolutionized by technology one way or the other. The next step in this technological disruption is the creation of smart cities.
Smart cities are easily defined as cities that make use of information technology to enhance the standard of living of its residents. They offer benefits such as utilizing web traffic to prevent traffic jams and find optimal parking spaces for drivers. In a smart city, resources like water and electricity can also be managed effectively.
However, for a smart city to function effectively, it needs a bulk of information. Data collection and interpretation has to take place every hour of the day.
Information will be siphoned from phones, home appliances, CCTV cameras, sensors, and so on. When examined closely, the foundation of smart cities borders on humans’ right to privacy.
Privacy Infringement on Smart City Residents
A lot of data about the residents in the various smart city projects around the world can be stored on the administration’s servers. A person’s movement and behaviour through the day can be tracked, and personal data about them can be kept.
In overreaching cases of privacy infringements, smart cities might even track interactions made in the city, and build profiles based on these findings.
If a privacy breach of the smart city’s servers happens, it would prove dangerous to its inhabitants. For instance, an individual’s location could be easily tracked simply by perusing through the hacked data, giving rise to stalkers. Hackers can also sell this information to burglars that want to rob homes.
A privacy breach can also lead to the theft of a person’s finances. If numerous online banking details are revealed, it could lead to a widespread emptying of bank accounts.
There is also the danger of individuals’ information landing in the hands of a government or corporation. Several smart cities are established under firm-government partnerships or solely under companies. There is bound to be a misuse of personal data as we’ve observed over the years since the mass adoption of the internet.
The Panacea to this Privacy Issue
Our right to privacy is what has led to numerous innovations in sectors like art, science, and technology. Without the feeling of being monitored or watched, people have come up with revolutionary ideas. Curbing this right would be a ticket to receding general human intelligence.
The constant tracking of our movements can lead to an imbalance between the people and the government. The government will know everything about the people while the people know only what they’re told. Gradually, our right to privacy would be the first of many things denied. Freedom of expression would be the next to go.
Before a smart city can be created, certain procedures have to be taken. One of the most important, however, is a limit to the reach of the government regarding privacy.
Special bodies that review and scrutinize privacy infringements would have to be created. The administration behind the smart city would also have to present a lucid system on how information is gathered and used.
Citizens will also have to look out for their privacy. Tools like VPNs can be used on public networks to prevent the government from spying on internet activity. Facemasks can also be used to prevent facial recognition by CCTV cameras.