City of Seattle affirms privacy as human right

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously this afternoon to adopt Resolution 31598, affirming privacy as a human right and aligning the work of the City’s privacy initiative with the right to privacy as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“As we continue to make innovative technology investments to improve our services, the City is handling increasing amounts of data,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Seattle is implementing a Digital Privacy Initiative to support public trust in the security and privacy of personal information.”

“The City of Seattle prides itself on being a leader in proactively protecting human rights beyond the status quo,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology. “The passage of this resolution is a monumental step towards extending human rights protections in the digital era we live in.”

In response to privacy concerns, the City of Seattle launched a privacy initiative in fall 2014 to strengthen the City’s privacy practices, establish protocols to educate City departments, and assess risks to the public when collecting data through the course of business. Through this initiative, both internal and external stakeholder groups were convened to review the City’s privacy practices and develop a City-wide privacy policy. Resolution 31570 was passed in February 2015, adopting the City of Seattle Privacy Principles to guide the actions of the City when collecting personal information from the public to provide services.

In December 2012, the Seattle City Council adopted Resolution 31420 proclaiming Seattle to be a Human Rights City, endorsing the human rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, recognizing the importance of using the international human rights framework for cities to work on their commitment to protecting, respecting, and fulfilling the full range of universal human rights.