Smart Cities-Invasion Of Privacy?

As government of India becomes super aggressive in investing in Smart Cities and kick starting endeavors to build not 1 or 2 but 100 over a few years, the thought of how and if anyone is paying heed to citizen privacy?  Given that privacy in India is something which is easily abused and not cared for , we feel that this can be a serious impediment in the road to smart city progress

After all, an active smart city would be fully geared to interact and analyse with not just the data produced by physical infrastructure but also of citizens- of where they work, how much time they take to commute from home to office, who are their close friends and their various reactions to different stimulus throughout the day.

The problem here is not so much of data capture but of what type of data being captured, its easy availability and lack of or not enough data protection and sharing policies being in place.

This indicates the need for allowing each citizen to opt-out and opt-in and choose a level of opting in and out of sharing information.

Another concern will be data given by citizen in the form of crowd sourced data. For example people reporting traffic violations –these type of dat need to be treated differently than the data captured by sensors and still need to be filtered through the Privacy norms.

Even bigger concern is lost opportunity. That this data (sensor + public) is valuable, is accepted by all. However how will the government leverage this data to reward citizens, make them more efficient, disciplined and law abiding and be able to serve them in a contextual and relevant way is a big question mark.

Is the government thinking on the lines of data storage, protection, availability, analysis, insights and application?

Of course the other fear is the availability or sharing this data with businesses which can do behavioral targeting to bombard people with ads and information-in a way breaching privacy of citizens.

At no pint in time the data should embarrass a general law abiding citizen due to lack of privacy- should be the mantra for government and if a breach happens the government alongwith the technology partners should be ready to pay a hefty fine.

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