In search of privacy advocacy from underrepresented communities

In an attempt to bring together various privacy stakeholders in Seattle, particularly from the Muslim community, I attended my first Muslim, Sikh and Arab Advisory Council meeting looking for specific privacy cases to learn about. I later wrote to the Seattle Police Department with various questions and concerns. In light of the City of Seattle establishing a welcomed Privacy Initiative, it seems prudent to involve privacy stakeholders from various local and underrepresented communities.

Below is an email sent to a Seattle Police Department program manager regarding the the Muslim, Sikh and Arab Advisory Council to the Seattle Police Department on November 19th, 2014. The program manager, Maggie Olsen, promptly replied stating that my email had been forwarded to the Commander of the Community Outreach Section, Captain John Hayes. Jan and I have not yet received a reply.

Hello Maggie,

My name is Christopher Sheats, a concerned citizen of Seattle and a volunteer for the Seattle Privacy Coalition (SPC) (
My colleague Jan is CC'd, she is the SPC director. I'm writing with regard to the Muslim, Sikh and Arab (MSA) Advisory Council to the Seattle Police Department.

This email may be better directed to Detective Yanal Vwich, or possibly Chief Kathleen O'Toole. I attended my first MSA meeting on October 2nd, 2014. I advertised that the Citizens Technology and Telecommunications Advisory Board (CTTAB) was planning a privacy symposium to focus on the privacy impact to vulnerable populations in Seattle. The privacy symposium is supposed to happen next year, but I am not yet sure about details.

I also want Detective Yanal Vwich and the MSA to be aware that the City of Seattle is establishing a special, and likely permanent, privacy advisory board for the city. For more information about the new privacy


Seattle Takes the Lead in Nationwide Surveillance vs. Privacy Debate

Composition of City’s Privacy Advisory Board (written by Jan)

I have several questions, please help where possible.

Q1- It appears that MSA and the East African Advisory Council's have been combined and that their meeting schedule has been severely reduced. 
Why is that?

Q2- Given the privacy and trust implications of these vulnerable populations, I was surprised to learn that these meetings were being held at a government facility. I know that this has a negative impact on attendance. Why can't it be changed to a community center, with more access to bus routes?

NSA Surveillance Chilling Effects: HRW and ACLU Gather More Evidence

Q3- Would't it be prudent to have a member of the Muslim community to be directly involved with the Seattle Privacy Advisory Board?

Latest Snowden Leaks: FBI Targeted Muslim-American Lawyers

One of the attendees bluntly accused that the FBI was spying on people in his community. The FBI attendee blatantly lied in response--given the Snowden revelations that go into specific proof that says otherwise. The Seattle City Council, the Seattle Police Department, local FBI offices, and the City's IT Dept all share the responsibility in gaining trust though cooperation and privacy enhancements.

Having gone to just one MSA meeting, I was almost overwhelmed with the amount of distrust between attending members of vulnerable populations and the various US Gov attendees. As an empathetic white male, it was uncomfortable.

On behalf of the Seattle Privacy Coalition, I would like to assist wherever possible to help bridge this divide, regarding trust through privacy. Please share the following information to the respective Advisory Councils where appropriate. It would also be great to get members of MSA involved with our citizen group (Seattle Privacy Coalition) for greater diversity:

Send an empty email to the following address to be put on our announce

Seattle Privacy Coalition can be contacted directly:

I can be contacted directly, and I have a public PGP key available:
7DFF 4EE5 1C63 9060 C9C9
A48A BEAF 1420 523A EB46

If any of you would like help setting up your own PGP key-pair so that people can securely contact you, or an alternative secure chat application, please let me know.

Lastly, with your permission, I'd like to publish any or all responses to our blog,, so that the public can be further educated about these ongoing issues.


Christopher Sheats

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.