Data the City Collects

The City of Seattle requires information to deliver services and ensure that we are providing equal and fair access to public resources. While specific data collection depends on the department and service involved, the following are examples of the kinds of information that may be collected about residents and their family members:

  • Racial or ethnic origin
  • Trade union membership
  • Information related to offenses or criminal convictions
  • Image, audio or video recording
  • Driver’s license information
  • Biometric data
  • Birthdate
  • Name
  • Home or email address
  • Identification number (Social Security #)
  • Physical characteristics
  • Consumer purchase or billing history
  • Household information
  • Information on medical or health conditions
  • Financial information

This information can be very sensitive, especially when linked to a person or address. Our Privacy Program exists to ensure that residents know what is being collected about them and how it is being used.

Protecting Your Privacy

Gaining and maintaining the public's trust about information management is our responsibility as a local government and critical to our successful operations. While privacy laws protect some personal information, most of what we collect becomes a government record that others can ask to see through public records requests. It is therefore important that we manage this information appropriately and lawfully.

When collecting personal data, we commit to do the following:

  • Minimize Data Collection. Minimizing data means only collecting what is necessary to get done the job at hand.
  • Provide Notice. Clearly communicating about our data collection and use and provide access to our Privacy Statement.
  • Review Obligations. Understanding and follow and legal, contractual, and other obligations.
  • Review Data and Systems Security. Taking steps to secure adequately stored data.
  • Delete or De-identify Data. Follow City data retentions schedules and dispose of data as required.

Open Data

Seattle has long led the way in providing open data sets to the public. These are reviewed, scrubbed of personally identifiable information and made available to the public for research, entrepreneurial uses and general information to City residents.

Public Disclosure

Almost all information that government entities, including cities, collect are subject to public disclosure request. Public Disclosure ensures that the public can find out what information has been collected about them and provide a way to know more about how our government operates. The State of Washington Public Records Act (RCW 42.56) outlines legal requirements about the management of public records. The purpose of the law is to allow the public to request government records. It also specifies which records are exempt from Public Disclose Requests. This creates a concern for the City as we collect information to make sure we protect individual privacy while collecting information necessary to deliver essential and needed public services.

Other Related Privacy Links