LinkNYC, the latest initiative for public Wi-Fi Hotspots in New York City, is currently raising privacy concerns among its users.
Although a free public Wi-Fi connection in the streets of New York City may seem like a great perk, according to New York Civil Liberties Union campaigners, the LinkNYC booths are collecting email addresses, browsing data and other types of user-specific content from devices while users access the LinkNYC connection. NY Mayor, Bill de Blasio’s anticipates that this is a profitable project as it is expected to generate over $500 million in advertising for the city while also providing free public Wi-Fi throughout Manhattan.
Image source: LinkNYC
Nevertheless, the data trade required to access the network is considered by many a high-security risk, since the user data collected by this vast network spread throughout NYC is only cleared out after 12 months of inactivity from the LinkNYC network. The personal data submitted by users who frequently connect to the LinkNYC network will allow the network to keep track of each individual user every time they log on to the public network. Liberty campaigners have raised concerns about this privacy breach saying it’s a form of unwanted surveillance as Wi-Fi user information is readily accessible to anybody with access to the network’s data.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated for accuracy as more details on the LinkNYC initiative have since come to light.