Free wifi includes data collection


LinkNYC, a system of 1,000 public wifi kiosks across all five boroughs of New City administered by the private consortium CityBridge, offers free high-speed wifi, phone calls, a charging station for mobile devices, and a built-in tablet to access a variety of city services. Announced by the mayor's office in November 2014 and deployed in 2016, the system is funded by advertisers, who pay for time on the kiosks' displays on either side. The initial privacy policy allowed LinkNYC to store personal browsing histories and was unclear about how LinkNYC would handle government requests for user data. In 2017, CityBridge made improvements to this policy. 

However, the Electronic Frontier Foundation remained concerned about data breaches and the lack of public input into the governance of these kiosks, which are expanding to include cameras and other sensors in 2018. The system does not provide for New Yorkers to participate in decisions about the use or retention of the data from Link kiosks, or how LinkNYC's practices might change in the future.
Writer: Shahid Buttar and Amul Kalia
Publication: EFF

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