Beginning in the fall of 2018, telecommunications companies Tmobile, Verizon, and began rolling out their 5th Generation, or 5G, cellular networks. These networks will allow the future envisioned in sci-fi fantasies to finally come to life. But will this technological world of the future turn into a digital dystopia?
5g will herald what has come to be known as the Internet of Things. The IoT is the name for the growing list of interconnected digital “smart” devices. This includes everything from cellphones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of. The concept of the Internet of Things has been around for years, but now that 5g is coming to fruition we will see an explosion of thousands of devices sending all types of data to each other. This will lead to what some have called a “digital smog”, due to the electromagnetic radiation released by the devices and the new infrastracture needed to make the 5G Smart Grid function.
Despite a growing number of people expressing their concerns around health and calls for more studies, the 5G network has begun rolling out across the United States. Now that the roll out seems inevitable it might be prudent to take a moment to see what the various corporations pushing the 5g Smart Grid have in mind.
Let’s take a look at Samsung’s 5G digital city in Korea. A writer with Forbes describes how 5G hot spots demonstrate how quickly a person in a moving vehicle could download and upload large video files to the network. They envision sporting venues using 5G hot zones to deliver personalized video feeds of a customer’s favorite player to their mobile device or allow healthcare providers to test assisted surgery with augmented and virtual reality. Other use cases for the smart city tech include CCTV, traffic control, and smart lighting, where environmentally friendly lights automatically turn off when no one is nearby.
Noticeably missing from this endorsement of Samsung’s privacyless city is the fact that these CCTV cameras and devices are recording 24 hours a day and are capable of notifying law enforcement if someone jaywalks, speeds, or whatever other behavior the crown has deemed illegal.
Let’s look at another example of a smart city. Quayside is a smart city located on 12 acres of waterfront property southeast of downtown Toronto, Canada. Quayside represents a joint effort by the Canadian government agency Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. Sidewalk Labs claims Quayside will solve traffic congestion, rising home prices and environmental polution. Unfortunately, residents of Quayside will be accessing a centralized identity management system through which they access public services such as library cards and health care. However, there has been resistance.
Recently, Ann Cavoukian, one of Canada’s leading privacy experts and Ontario’s former privacy commissioner, became the latest person to resign from the project. Cavoukian was brought on by Sidewalk Toronto as a consultant to help install a “privacy by design” framework. She was initially told that all data collected from residents would be deleted and rendered unidentifiable. She later learned that third parties would be able to access identifiable information gathered at Quayside.
Besides the health and privacy concerns we must consider what the roll out of this technology means for someone who does not consent to the technology. They cannot simply go in their homes or easily opt out of it is everywhere. Julie Di Lorenzo, a real estate developer who left Waterfront’s board in July, explained to the AP that She wanted to know if those who didn’t opt-in to the city would be told that they couldn’t live there. As one Toronto journalist wrote, “It’s one thing to willingly install Alexa in your home. It’s another when publicly owned infrastructure — streets, bridges, parks and plazas — is Alexa, so to speak.”
What does this mean moving forward? We must alert everyone and anyone willing to listen to the health, privacy, and freedom concerns related to the roll out of the 5g Surveillance Smart Grid. Otherwise, there is no hope for saving privacy.
The Conscious Resistance Network is an independent media organization focused on empowering individuals through education, philosophy, health, and community organizing. We work to create a world where corporate and state power does not rule over the lives of free human beings.
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