NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The head of the New York Civil Liberties Union is expressing concerns about the privacy of people using free Wi-Fi throughout the city.

New York City is in the process of replacing more than 7,500 payphones with free Wi-Fi kiosks. The LinkNYC initiative is run by a company called CityBridge.

But the NYCLU’s Donna Lieberman is concerned, saying CityBridge offers in its privacy policy to make efforts to clear out users’ personal information only after they’ve been inactive for a year. That means New Yorkers who use the service regularly could have their info stored for the rest of their lives.

“It gives up information about not just sort of what they’re doing, but what they’re thinking,” Lieberman told WCBS 880’s Stephanie Colombini.

The policy also says the company will make reasonable efforts to notify users if police are requesting their personal info.

“That’s really not good enough. You can’t sign on to this without giving an email address, so there ought to be a guarantee of notification.”

A spokesman for LinkNYC said the term “reasonable effort” is used because email addresses are the only contact information the network has stored about its users. He said law enforcement would have to issue subpoenas to access any data.

A spokesperson with the mayor’s office said the city is working with CityBridge to ensure users’ personal information stays personal.


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