Seattle Digital Privacy

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and city council members announced a new privacy initiative this week.  The city plans to provide more transparency in data collection and practices.

Murray says that data collection happens naturally from doing business with the public, and he wants to make sure that practices protect the public trust and security of the personal information.  Seattle is one of the first to proactively work towards protecting the public’s privacy during this time of technology. 

The initiative will have the city reviewing its current policies of collecting, using, retaining, and deleting data tied to residents.  It will cover all city departments.  The city says collection occurs every day with actions like residents paying utility bills, renewing pet licenses, browsing web pages, and signing up for email lists.  Emergency services collect video and electronic data. 

The review will be led by stakeholders from departments like the Police, Fire, City, Light, Transportation, Information Technology, Law, and Seattle Public Library.  They will develop guidelines on how the City will handle future decisions regarding privacy, and how the city creates a privacy statement that will be shared with the public.  The group will also figure out how to educate the departments on privacy practices and how to assess compliance. A Privacy Advisory Committee will also be created, made up of researchers, practitioners, community representatives, and other experts to help guide the City’s group. 

A privacy statement and the guidelines will be given to the city council by June of 2015.