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    City of Seattle launches digital privacy initiative

    The City of Seattle has announced “a citywide privacy initiative, aimed at providing greater transparency into the City’s data collection and use practices.”

    “In the course of doing business with the public, the City is collecting and exchanging increasing amounts of data,” said [Mayor Ed Murray (D)]. “As we continue to make innovative technology investments, we need to implement practices that support public trust in the security and privacy of personal information.” […]

    The collection of data occurs in every day City processes, such as paying a utility bill, renewing a pet license, browsing a web page, or signing up for an email list. Police, fire and emergency services collect different forms of video and electronic data. The increasing complexity of emerging technologies, business systems and laws mean the City must take appropriate steps to facilitate the collection, use, and disposal of data in a manner that balances the needs of the City to conduct its business with individual privacy, in a manner that builds public trust.

    As part of this initiative, the City has convened a group of stakeholders from across City departments including Police, Fire, City Light, Transportation, Information Technology, Law, and Seattle Public Library. This team will create a set of principles that govern how the City approaches privacy-impacting decisions and a privacy statement that communicates the City’s privacy practices to the public. In addition, the group will propose an approach to educating City departments on privacy practices and assess compliance.

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