Composition of City’s Privacy Advisory Board

I was curious about how the city was going to populate its newly formed Privacy Advisory Board (which, hurray!) so I asked Ginger in the Department of Information Technology. This was a huge question we had at Seattle Privacy Coalition when we first started trying to figure out how something like this would look.

Here’s what she wrote to me in email.

“As we considered this group of advisers, we wanted to reach out to a broad range of experts in the field of privacy as we work on our privacy initiative. This includes thought-leaders with expertise from academia, including the areas of law, technology, ethics, philosophy and political science; private and federal law; ¬†government and corporate privacy policy and compliance; open data; cyber security, civil rights, citizen advocacy and community members with a strong personal investment in our local policies and practices. ¬†We want this group to review our work, provide meaningful feedback and challenge us to reach beyond the usual bureaucratic processes and decision-making.

“We have been gathering names over the past several months from internal and external privacy professionals and are now speaking and meeting with potential members to invite their participation. We are hoping for 7-9 members with this vast body of experience and the good news is that we are making progress.”

I know the Privacy Advisory Board meets for the first time on December 2, so I’m sure they’re scrambling to get people to commit.

It’s too early to be anything but grateful that this is happening at all, but I do wish there was explicit mention of a hardware engineer or a cryptographer. I guess probably “cyber security” refers to system administrators, although just having the word “cyber” in there at all gives me shivers of discomfort.

Here’s the list we had originally envisioned, which came from 8-10 people sitting in Office Nomads, tossing out ideas:

  • University of Washington security and privacy research center
  • Representative from the police accountability and review board
  • Computer hardware developer
  • Security software developer
  • Sociologist
  • Two attorneys with expertise in privacy law
  • Near Future Security Researcher
  • ACLU technology expert
  • Community member(s) with stake in free expression (artist? blogger?)
  • Small business owner

Even at the time, however, it didn’t feel complete. Not enough “general public” representation. Not enough attention to vulnerable populations, who are on the front lines of privacy violations. Still, there’s enough of an overlap that it feels like a good start.

As with other committees that this Mayor has formed, the process of identifying people to serve has been quiet and behind the scenes. I look forward to seeing who the people are who are willing and able to serve on this probably fairly challenging committee. Naturally, SPC will be doing a gap analysis on the board’s composition, after we hear more about it.



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