Back in early 2016 I wrote about a plan for #NewYorkCity to turn 7,500 payphones into #WiFi #hotspots. The program was called #LinkNYC and indeed has begun its rollout with more than 1,500 now online.
At the time, I raised some of the health concerns surrounding the implementation of a grid that would enhance the public’s exposure to #electromagneticradiation (without their consent of course). However, I also cautioned about issues of privacy and the potential for pervasive surveillance through these structures.
Unfortunately, a new report by The Intercept is confirming privacy invasion as it appears that these devices are being used to track the movements of passersby.
In addition to the standard functionality of charging stations and the ability to gather pertinent information and directions, The Intercept correctly notes that other features such as cameras and sensors can monitor the movements of crowds as well as collect their data – potentially in real-time. Despite initial assurances of data encryption and anonymity, a researcher recently came across code that was posted on the Internet which shows a larger scope to the overall plan. My emphasis added.
In May of this year, Charles Meyers, an undergraduate at #NewYorkCity College of Technology, came across folders in LinkNYC’s public library on GitHub, a platform for managing files and software, that appear to raise further questions about location tracking and the platform’s protection of its users’ data. Meyers made copies of the codebases in question — “LinkNYC Mobile Observation” and “RxLocation” — and shared both folders with The Intercept.
According to Meyers, the “LinkNYC Mobile Observation” code collects the user’s longitude and latitude, as well as the user’s browser type, operating system, device type, device identifiers, and full URL clickstreams (including date and time) and aggregates this information into a database. In Meyers’s view, this code — along with the functions of the “RxLocation” codebase — suggests that the company is interested in tracking the locations of Wi-Fi users in real time... 🖐🏾More in comments👇🏾#SurveillanceState #Technocracy