|NYC’s Ad-laden Wi-Fi Terminals are “Wi-Fry” and “Wi-Spy”|
by Jack O'Dwyer, odwyerpr.com, 4 March 2016
The 7,000+ Sidewalk Labs Wi-Fi terminals planned for New York will be a “huge” ad medium generating $500 million+ in revenues, Business Insider Reports. It sees “privacy concerns” because users will be tracked. Others see health concerns.
A major player in the scheme is Titan Advertising Group, known for many years as the “world’s largest transit advertising company.”
Sneakily, it only goes by the name “Titan” in the list of 11 companies and entities in the convoluted corporate setup behind the profusion of ad-bearing, radiation-spewing Wi-Fi terminals.
Wikipedia notes that Titan and “Control Group” (consulting firm) merged into a company called Intersection which was acquired by a group of investors led by Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc. (holding company for $74 billion revenues Google).
Sidewalk Lab’s rationale for the acquisition “centered on Titan and Control Group’s involvement in the LinkNYC project, which is building 7,000 Wi-Fi terminals in New York, says Wikipedia.
ABC-TV Aired “Wi-Fried” Feb. 16
ABC-TV’s science program Catalyst presented a half-hour special called “Wi-Fried” hosted by Maryanne Demasi, Ph.D., Australian science reporter, raising the question of whether wireless devices are harmful to health.
“Australia’s safety agency says there’s no evidence of harm, but that’s not the same as saying it’s safe,” says ABC-TV description of the program’s position.
Among those quoted is Devra Davis, Ph.D., an epidemiologist who has called on schools to switch from wireless to wired web access.
Among others calling for schools to remove Wi-Fi from the schools is Joe Imbriale who is a candidate for the Council in Fullerton, Calif. He says that the spectacle of 35 students sitting daylong at desks that are equipped with Wi-Fi accessing terminals is unacceptable.
Westhampton Residents Rebuffed on Wi-Fi
Residents of Westhampton, N.Y., have pleaded with the library board to remove Wi-Fi from the library, citing health dangers to children and other users.
When the board refused to do so, residents sent an email with links to 15 sources documenting the health hazards of electromagnetic radiation.
Business Insider, launched in 2009 by former Doubleclick CEO Kevin Ryan and which sold an 88% stake in 2015 to Alex Springer SE for a reported $343 million, has done an extensive analysis of the plan to blanket New York with ad-bearing Wi-Fi terminals.
It notes at the outset that the terminals represent a “huge opportunity” for display of 55-inch ads on both sides of the terminals. “LinkNYC expects to eventually generate over $500 million in revenue through ad partnerships and sponsorships,” it says, noting this is “quite a bit more than the $40 million a year in existing phone booth ads.”
Users Will Be Tracked
Business Insider Sees “Privacy Concerns”
Anyone one who uses the terminals will be added to the databank of Sidewalk Labs. Only iPhone and iPads can get on LinkNYC’s private, encrypted network “for now,” BI was told by SL.
“We will use anonymous, aggregated information from device IDs about area demographics to build profiles of specific locations that’s valuable to advertisers,” said Miles Green, director of infrastructure engineering at Intersection.
Jennifer Hensley, general manager of LinkNYC, previously executive director, Assn. for a Better New York, said that although certain data will be collected on an aggregate level, “LinkNYC isn’t snooping on all of the web traffic that goes through its network—for now.”
Hensley sees an appeal for advertisers “especially for local merchants that wish to advertise a sale or happy hour down the block…we think the scale of digital advertising in New York, one of the world’s biggest media markets, is extremely compelling.” Hensley could not be reached for further comment.
Terminal Players Avoid Press
None of the 11 organizations involved in the terminals has scheduled a general press conference on the subject. Phone calls are not returned and emails are ignored that ask what the entities think about claims that radiation emitted by Wi-Fi’s and other sources are dangerous.
We attended an hour-long presentation by Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff Feb. 10 at a New York University facility in Brooklyn.
The Center for Urban Science & Progress of NYU, host of the program, initially said it would consist of a half hour talk by Doctoroff and a Q&A period. However, shortly before the program, it was changed to an academic “lecture” consisting of a 50-minute talk by Doctoroff followed by three questions.
This reporter tried to ask one of the questions but could not get recognized. NYU PR staffers said the appearance of Doctoroff was “not a press conference” and there would be no “special treatment” of any reporters.
Identified by Business Insider as the 11 companies and entities behind LinkNYC are Alphabet, holding company for $74 billion Google; NYC Dept. of Information Technology & Telecommunications; Sidewalk Labs; Control Group; Titan; Intersection; CIFQ Smartscapes; Qualcomm; Antenna and CityBridge.