Seattle Councilmembers speak up for privacy

Here’s the video from the Monday 2/23 Full Seattle City Council meeting where the resolution spelling out Seattle’s new Privacy Principles was passed. Extremely fitting and gratifying that this took place the day after Citizenfour won an Oscar.

I was heartened by the language we heard from councilmembers who spoke. It’s wonderful that they are so much better informed, more articulate, and just plain braver on this issue than they were two years ago. I loved hearing Councilmember Harrell talk about the city capturing IP addresses, and talking about how mind-boggling and intimidating it is, how much data the city collects.

Noteworthy comments and commitments here:

Harrell (38:13)
“I share and echo the concerns about whether privacy is a human right or just something that we grapple with when we need to…. I’m in complete agreement with some of the testimony that we heard this morning. We are a Human Rights City. We adopted the universal Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was established by the UN General Assembly after World War II, we embrace this notion that privacy as a right….”)

O’Brien (42:57)
“This is a good first step, there’s a lot of work to do, specifically around the issue of privacy as a human right, which will be in discussions as we move forward….”

Sawant: (43:54)
“Without real accountability and guidelines this will be an ongoing problem…the city has been wasting time and taxpayer money implementing equipment and then taking it down after public outcry…” (Fabulously, she mentions the $5 million cost of the cams and some other specifics that the other councilmembers tactfully avoided, nicely putting SPD right in the crosshairs of this issue, where they belong.)

While the written principles themselves are not terribly strong, this is great stuff coming from the dais. I look forward to pushing for more specificity, bigger goals, explicit discussions of auditing and enforcement as the City develops the Privacy statement and toolkit, due in August.

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