Privacy and the City: How Data Shapes City Identities

Article by Bilyana Petkova: “This article bridges comparative constitutional law to research inspired by city leadership and the opportunities that technology brings to the urban environment. It looks first to some of the causes of rapid urbanization and finds them in the pitfalls of antidiscrimination law in federations and quasi-federations such as the United States and the European Union. Short of achieving antidiscrimination based on nationality, the EU has experimented with data privacy as an identity clause that could bring social cohesion the same way purportedly freedom of speech has done in the US. In the City however, diversity replaces antidiscrimination, making cities attractive to migrants across various walks of life. The consequence for federalism is the obvious decline of top-down or vertical, state-based federalism and the rise of legal urbanism whereby cities establish loose networks of cooperation between themselves. These types of arrangements are not yet a threat to the State or the EU but might become such if cities are increasingly isolated from the political process (e.g. at the EU level) and lack legal means to assert themselves in court. City diversity and openness to different cultures in turn invites a connection to new technologies since unlike antidiscrimination that is usually strictly examined on a case-by-case level, diversity can be more readily computed. Finally, the article focuses on NYC and London initiatives to suggest a futuristic vision of city networks that instead of using social credit score like in China, deploy data trusts to populate their urban environments, shape city identities and exchange ideas for urban development…(More)”.

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