Recently revealed Sidewalk Labs documents from 2016 outline the aims of the Google-linked city planning company including having the power to levy property taxes, track people’s movements and control public services.
The Globe and Mail reports that confidential Sidewalk Labs documents from 2016 reveal the aims of the Google-linked firm which include levying its own property taxes, tracking people’s movements and controlling public services. The documents outline how individuals living in a Sidewalk community interact with the space around them, an experience which is based on how much data they’re willing to hand over and could ultimately be used to reward individuals for “good behavior,” whch sounds suspiciously like China’s social credit system.
The document, which was internally referred to as the “yellow book,” was designed as a pitch book for the company and existed for more than a year before the firm made formal development agreements with the city of Toronto. The document reportedly references Disney theme parks and states that the firm, intends to “overcome cynicism about the future.”
The documents explain how much private control of city services Alphabet Inc’s leadership envisioned when they started Sidewalk Labs. Sidewalk Labs has been in negotiations with government agency Waterfront Toronto since 2017 to develop a futuristic new living project on the city’s eastern waterfront. Sidewalk Labs was announced as a Google sister company in June, 2015, and is run by former New York City deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff.
Sidewalk Labs spokesperson Keerthana Rang commented on the 2016 documents stating: “The ideas contained in this 2016 internal paper represent the result of a wide-ranging brainstorming process very early in the company’s history. Many, if not most, of the ideas it contains were never under consideration for Toronto or discussed with Waterfront Toronto and governments. The ideas that we are actually proposing – which we believe will achieve a new model of inclusive urban growth that makes housing more affordable for families, creates new jobs for residents, and sets a new standard for a healthier planet – can all be found at sidewalktoronto.ca.”
The documents state that Sidewalk wanted to control its living area similar to how Disney World does in Florida where the company convinced legislature in the 1960s that it required “extraordinary exceptions.” This could mean that Sidewalk Labs would gain taxation powers, the book states: “Sidewalk will require tax and financing authority to finance and provide services, including the ability to impose, capture and reinvest property taxes.”
The firm would also create and control its own public services such as charter schools, special transit systems and a private road infrastructure.
Read more about Sidewalk Labs and the leaked 2016 documents here.