NYC City Council Passes Jumaane Williams' Privacy Bill

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Council Member Williams. Photo: Kevin Fagan

The New York City Council passed a bill from Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn) that would provide additional protections to secure personal data collected by city agencies.

The bill, Intro. 1588-A , requires City employees and contractors to protect identifying information-such as contact information, sexual orientation, religion, and immigration status-by limiting its collection, disclosure, and retention.

It also establishes the position of privacy officer within each agency who will review and approve the collection, disclosure, and retention of identifying information to ensure such actions further the purpose or mission of such agency and protect identifying information from unauthorized disclosure.

The City has already taken steps in the past to protect personal information on the technological front, requiring that information is erased from old computer before they are disposed of and with various protections in place to keep data secure from thieves and hackers, but this bill creates protections against possible misuse by other entities.

This bill works in conjunction with a bill from Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Int. No. 1557, which requires the review of how every City agency's current data collection, retention, and disclosure policies and practices. A newly established Chief Privacy Officer and interagency committee will then review those reports and develop new, detailed protocols for minimizing the collection and disclosure of identifying information and protecting this information citywide.

"For years, it has become increasingly clear that the personal data of citizens needs to be emphatically and unequivocally protected," Williams said. "In this time, this is a public safety issue, and people are looking to New York City to lead the way. The city has already stood strong in that defense technologically, taking steps to protect data from being accessed by hackers and other bad actors. But in this time, it's important that we recognize those bad actors can come from anywhere, and these bills provide a safeguard against New Yorker's private data being accessed and utilized to unjust ends.In conjunction with Speaker Mark-Viverito's bill, this will provide much needed protections for New Yorkers in this digital age."

"In this digital age, respecting and valuing New Yorkers' privacy is essential and we as the City's legislative body will do everything in our power to ensure they are protected," Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. "Introduction 1557-A and Introduction 1588-A would require the creation of a Chief Privacy Officer and actions to guarantee our City's residents personal information will not be compromised. I thank Council Member Jumaane Williams for his bill and his work to protect all New Yorkers."

"The establishment of a Chief Privacy Officer and a complete review of City agency data practices are the right steps to ensure sensitive, personal information is either not collected, not retained, or used only when absolutely necessary," added Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

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