Portland City Council attends work session on privacy and data protection

On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, Portland City Council held a work session on privacy and data protection to update Mayor Ted Wheeler and the Portland City Council on personal data management in public service in the context of emergent technology and Smart Cities. The work session was requested by the mayor’s office and a team was coordinated by the Portland Office of Equity and Human Rights and supported by the mayor’s office and Smart City PDX staff.

The work session agenda consisted of an introduction of the emerging issues on privacy and data protection, plus a look at how the City of Portland is addressing privacy issues. Guest speakers shared their experiences from other cities around the world.

Guest speakers included Kelsey Finch, Future of Privacy Forum and City of Seattle’s Privacy Risk Assessment Project and Brian Hofer, Oakland Privacy Commission. City of Portland presenters included Judith Mowry, Office of Equity and Human Rights, Hector Dominguez, Smart City PDX, Elisabeth Perez, Office of Mayor Ted Wheeler, and Christopher Paidhrin, Chief Information and Security Officer, Bureau of Technology Services.

Presenters outlined the scope of privacy issues, how they related to equity and how other jurisdictions — specifically Seattle and Oakland — are addressing these topics. In a data-rich society, privacy and data protection are the foundation for building trust among institutions and people, as cities increasingly have opportunities to engage better with residents and become a trusted steward of city residents’ data.

Recent events around unauthorized use of personal data by corporations have triggered policies around the world on Privacy and Data protection, like the European General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR, and the California Bill AB-375 on Privacy: personal information: businesses. These policies aim to protect how personal information, in the consumer data context, is handled and create resources to protect people’s data and life patterns for the coming decades. Vulnerable population are likely to be left out of those benefits and their information more exposed if extra measures are not taken

Community Privacy guidelines based on Human Rights for adoption by Council are our next priority. These guidelines and accountability structure for implementation will provide guidance for any policy development or practice related to data collection, management and processing in city services. A right to privacy is explicitly stated under Article 12 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation.

Next steps toward that goal involve a November 5 and 6 visit to Portland by Ginger Armbruster, Chief Privacy Officer for the City of Seattle and Heather Patterson, commissioner at the Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission. We are organizing a community discussion on November 6 to gather guidance and gauge the need and level of awareness on these issues. Gathering this information will help us develop city-wide privacy guidelines and understand future outreach and engagement needs. Find out more about this community discussion and register to participate.