Seattle Launches Sweeping, Ethics-Based Privacy Overhaul

for the Privacy Advisor: “The City of Seattle this week launched a citywide privacy initiative aimed at providing greater transparency into the city’s data collection and use practices.
To that end, the city has convened a group of stakeholders, the Privacy Advisory Committee, comprising various government departments, to look at the ways the city is using data collected from practices as common as utility bill payments and renewing pet licenses or during the administration of emergency services like police and fire. By this summer, the committee will deliver the City Council suggested principles and a “privacy statement” to provide direction on privacy practices citywide.
In addition, the city has partnered with the University of Washington, where Jan Whittington, assistant professor of urban design and planning and associate director at the Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity, has been given a $50,000 grant to look at open data, privacy and digital equity and how municipal data collection could harm consumers.
Responsible for all things privacy in this progressive city is Michael Mattmiller, who was hired to the position of chief technology officer (CTO) for the City of Seattle in June. Before his current gig, he worked as a senior strategist in enterprise cloud privacy for Microsoft. He said it’s an exciting time to be at the helm of the office because there’s momentum, there’s talent and there’s intention.
“We’re at this really interesting time where we have a City Council that strongly cares about privacy … We have a new police chief who wants to be very good on privacy … We also have a mayor who is focused on the city being an innovative leader in the way we interact with the public,” he said.
In fact, some City Council members have taken it upon themselves to meet with various groups and coalitions. “We have a really good, solid environment we think we can leverage to do something meaningful,” Mattmiller said….
Armbruster said the end goal is to create policies that will hold weight over time.
“I think when looking at privacy principles, from an ethical foundation, the idea is to create something that will last while technology dances around us,” she said, adding the principles should answer the question, “What do we stand for as a city and how do we want to move forward? So any technology that falls into our laps, we can evaluate and tailor or perhaps take a pass on as it falls under our ethical framework.”
The bottom line, Mattmiller said, is making a decision that says something about Seattle and where it stands.
“How do we craft a privacy policy that establishes who we want to be as a city and how we want to operate?” Mattmiller asked.”