With all the outrage at revelations that Cambridge Analytica was breaching Facebook’s rules and harvesting massive swathes of data and concern at how much of our personal information is being used by Facebook, you’d think organisations would be a little more circumspect about data collection. But the Gold Coast council, which is hosting the Commonwealth Games has taken a different view. Their new city-wide Wi-Fi service will be harvesting visitor data.
In order to use the city’s new high speed Wi-Fi service, you’ll need to log in using Facebook. There will be a slower, limited service available for non-Facebook users.
According to a report at The Guardian, the council says their use of the data they collect will be quite limited and will not be shared although there are contradictory statements about the data being used for analysis by the tourism sector and accessed by “a small number of city officials”.
If there was ever a time for a government to not use Facebook for authentication and tracking services, this is the time. It’s entirely possible for the council to move away from Facebook and employ some other authentication system instead of Facebook – perhaps even one that isn’t linked to the unauthorised capture of personal data and election tampering.
Of course, if you ever connect to a public Wi-Fi hotspot and don’t use a VPN you’re asking for trouble. With Australia enjoying decent access to fast cellular communications in metropolitan areas, I’d be recommending a local pre-paid SIM card to any friends heading to the Commonwealth Games.
Public Wi-Fi is probably the least trustworthy way of connecting to the internet. And while this move by the Gold Council is quite bone-headed, I don’t trust any public Wi-Fi.