Dublin City-Wide WiFi – Privacy Implications?

It’s great to see that Dublin City Council are planning free wireless internet access for Dublin – hopefully replacing the expensive and patchy coverage currently available.

One issue that will be important in designing and implementing this system is whether it respects the privacy of its users. This has already been controversial in San Francisco where the ACLU have criticised the proposed ad-supported model:

“The business model of a municipal wireless system should not include tracking and profiling user activities in order to sell or trade data or develop targeted advertising based on user information and online activities,” an attachment to the letter argued. “Such a business model creates an incentive to collect as much data about an individual and maintain it for as long as possible in order to create profiles about users.”

At the moment, the Dublin project is still at the planning stage, with the Council tendering for advice. Consequently, we’ve written to the Head of IT in Dublin City Council (Brian Curtis) asking him to let us know how privacy and data protection issues are dealt with in that tender and to include us in the consultation process to ensure that privacy issues are dealt with from the start.