Privacy Principles for Seattle proposed, council vote 2/23

On Monday, 2/23/2015, the Seattle City Council will vote on whether or not to approve the privacy principles drafted by the Seattle Privacy Advisory Board.

The following text that explains the history of the principles and lists them is shamelessly copied and pasted from the news advisory issued by the Mayor’s office and the Council, because, frankly, they have the staff to write this stuff. (And we are really glad they did.)

At Seattle Privacy we’ll be preparing and providing our own feedback on the principles over the next couple weeks. (Watch this space). We’d also love to encourage everyone to give them a read and a think, and to consider emailing council or even attending the 2pm meeting 2/23 in council chambers at city hall to share your thoughts before the vote.

Send email:

Visit this page to email the Seattle councilmembers.

Visit this page to email the mayor.

“NEWS ADVISORY: Seattle poised to be leader in protecting resident privacy

In November 2014 the City launched its Privacy Initiative, led by the Seattle Police Department and Department of Information Technology, to define how the City collects, uses, and disposes of data in a manner that balances the needs of the City to conduct its business with individual privacy, and builds public trust.

“These principles are an important benchmark in Seattle’s innovative Digital Privacy Initiative. I look forward to working with City Council to adopt these principles by resolution in order to enshrine our values around privacy and to guide our future decisions and actions with regards to our people’s personal information,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who helped raise the issue of digital privacy at Council in 2013.

The first of three deliverables, a set of privacy principles, was transmitted to the Seattle City Council today. These principles establish a core foundation from which City employees will approach decision making when doing work that involves personal data and information. All city departments will use these principles to inform the collection, use, management and sharing of the public’s personal information.

The proposed privacy principles include:

1. We value your privacy.

Keeping your personal information private is very important. We consider potential risks to the well-being of you and the public before collecting, using and disclosing your personal information.

2. We collect and keep only what we need.

We only collect information that we need to deliver City services and keep it as long as we are legally required or there is a valid business purpose. When it is practical, we tell you when we are collecting this information.

3. Using your information.

When appropriate, we make available information about the ways we use your personal information at the time we collect it. If possible, we will give you a choice about how we use your information.

4. We are accountable.

We manage personal information in a manner that is consistent with our commitments and as required by law. We protect your personal information by restricting improper access and by securing our computing resources from threats.

5. Sharing information.

We follow federal and state laws about information disclosure whenever we work with outside governmental agencies to protect our community and in answering public disclosure requests. Business partners and contracted vendors who receive or collect personal information from us or for us to deliver City services must agree to our privacy requirements.

6. Accuracy is important.

We work to maintain and use accurate personal information for City business. When practical, we will work to correct inaccurate personal information. We also instruct our partners and contracted vendors to follow the same guidelines.

These privacy principles were created by an interdepartmental team comprised of more than 10 departments and an external Privacy Advisory Committee comprised of community members and privacy experts from private industry, law firms, and academia. For more information on the City’s Privacy Initiative, visit ”


One last note on emailing elected officials in Seattle. These are adapted from the ACLU’s tips, with a special local twist.

Tips on emailing Seattle elected officials:

Keep it brief: Try to keep emails to a couple paragraphs at most. Legislative aides read many letters on many issues in a day, so your letter should be as concise as possible.

Say who you are and what you want up front: In the first paragraph, tell your representatives that you are a constituent and say what issue you’re writing about.

Say why it matters: Tell your elected official why this legislation matters here in Seattle.

Mention it if you voted for the person, volunteered, or contributed to their campaign.

Avoid all caps, exclamation points, insults, or threats. Seriously. There’s a guy who shows up to every single council meeting and calls them all Nazis. Nobody needs that. The Internet makes it too easy to be our worst selves. Aim for persuasion based on solid reasoning (as opposed to venting) to do your cause the best service.