City of Seattle Hires Ginger Armbruster as Chief Privacy Officer

Chief Privacy Officer Ginger Armbruster

The City of Seattle selected Ginger Armbruster as the City’s Chief Privacy Officer. The Chief Privacy Officer will help the City implement and enforce practices that manage data in accordance with the City’s Privacy Principles, which were established by Mayor Edward Murray and City Council. In 2015 the City of Seattle launched its Privacy Program led by the Seattle Information Technology Department (Seattle IT). The Program defined how the City collects, uses and disposes of data. Seattle is one of the first cities in the nation to establish a Privacy Program and Chief Privacy Officer.

“The City has an obligation to earn the public’s trust in how it collects and uses their data,” said City of Seattle Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller. “Ginger’s knowledge and experience working with our community will drive improved privacy practices across City departments and increased public engagement. We are fortunate to have Ginger join our talented workforce.”

“The privacy program we launched in 2015 with input from privacy thought leaders from across the country, our community, industry and City departments is important for our community,” said Armbruster. “I’m excited to get back to building this ground-breaking program.”

“In our digital age where we seem to be losing control of our personal information, its protection is more important than ever,” said Council President Bruce Harrell. “We want the public to feel assured that information that should remain private is managed with a high level of security.”

“Ginger brings her considerable privacy expertise to Seattle at a time when we need to be ever-vigilant to protect citizen privacy,” said State of Washington Chief Privacy Officer Alex Alben. “My office will look forward to working with her to champion privacy for our state!”

“The City of Seattle is a leader in the technology sector, and as such our great city should be at the forefront of protecting the private information of our community members. We at the Community Technology Advisory Board look forward to learning from and collaborating with Ginger to continue leading the discussion on best practices and strategies to better serve our many diverse communities,” said Jose Manuel Vasquez, Community Technology Advisory Board Chairman.

“As a privacy professional and a long-time resident of Seattle that cares deeply about individual privacy rights, I applaud the selection,” said Susan Lyon-Hintze.  “Armbruster has the experience, collaborative skills, and passion needed to lead our city’s efforts to protect privacy in an inclusive yet pragmatic manner,” she added. Lyon-Hintze served on the City’s Privacy Advisory Committee and helped develop the City’s Privacy Principles.

Armbruster previously worked for City, serving as the privacy program manager. She led an interdepartmental effort to establish a principles-based privacy program. She most recently served as a senior privacy manager for Microsoft where she developed and ran the privacy program for Office Marketing.

“I want to ensure the program is robust and mature enough to manage the data collected by the technologies we are currently using to meet the needs of the public we service. Looking long term, I hope to establish a world-class privacy program for the City of Seattle and set an example for others to follow,” said Armbruster.

“Ginger made the Privacy Program happen. She knows what works like a charm and where every hitch and sticking point is. If anyone can ensure its effective and impartial application across the city, she’s the one,” said Jan Bultmann Chair, Board of Directors, Seattle Privacy Coalition.

“Seattle became a national leader with the initiation of its privacy program in 2015. This visionary program was the product of innovative and thoughtful policy-making on the part of Mayor Murray, Michael Mattmiller, and Ginger Armbruster, along with a host of talented individuals currently serving the City of Seattle. With Ginger’s return to the City, we can expect Seattle to once again raise the profile of possibilities for protecting public interests in municipal data, setting an example for cities across the nation to follow,” said Dr. Jan Whittington, Associate Professor of the Department of Urban Design and Planning, at the University of Washington.

Armbruster has an undergraduate degree in political science from Columbia University. In 2013, she received her master’s degree in infrastructure planning and management from the University of Washington as a National Science Foundation grant recipient through the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service Program. The program is designed to increase the number of professionals that protect the government’s critical information infrastructure. Students then work in tribal, local or federal government in a relevant role for two years to fulfill the service requirement of the program. Armbruster completed her service time at the City of Seattle.

Seattle Is Rolling Out It’s Innovative Privacy Program

The City of Seattle continues to lead the nation in protecting citizens’ privacy.  Last fall, the Mayor and City Council launched the City’s new Privacy Initiative.  In February 2015, Seattle’s Privacy Principle’s were announced.

The next phase, the toolkit for Seattle’s Privacy Initiative, is now being implemented.  The toolkit will guide City departments on how to incorporate these principles into daily operations.

“Seattle is leading the nation to implement a comprehensive privacy program across all City departments,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “Our privacy principles are designed to protect individual privacy while still providing government transparency.”

The Privacy Toolkit will provide guidelines for how each department will implement a privacy assessment. Departments will also identify a privacy champion who will work with a privacy manager at the Department of Information Technology.

“This is a game changer in how we operate and do business to ensure we uphold the highest standard for your privacy,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee. “We have come up with the right balance of transparency, accountability and flexibility.”

The privacy principles and the toolkit were created by an interdepartmental team comprised of more than 10 departments and an external Privacy Advisory Committee comprised of community members and privacy experts from private industry, law firms, privacy advocates and academia. The mayor’s budget for 2016 includes funding for a Chief Privacy Officer for the City who will be charged with implementing the principles.

“This is the first time any city in the country has taken steps to protect the public’s private information whenever possible,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “This groundbreaking toolkit will help city employees think proactively about potential privacy implications with regards to any data or personal information we collect in the course of regular City business or when evaluating a new policy or program,”

In November 2014, the City launched its Privacy Initiative, led by the Seattle Police Department and Department of Information Technology. The initiative defined how the City collects, uses, and disposes of data in a manner that balances the needs of the City to conduct its business with individual privacy. For more information on the City’s Privacy Initiative, visit http://www.seattle.gov/information-technology/initiatives/privacy-initiative

Seattle is one of the first cities in the nation to establish its own privacy principles to protect personal information. City partners and vendors are instructed to follow the same guidelines.