Data Laws and Regulations

The City of Seattle abides by laws, statutes, and industry regulations that provide protection and guidance around the City's collection, sharing, and use of certain types of data. We also follow best practices and internal policies to reduce or eliminate the potential impact of new technologies and practices on the public's privacy. Should we become aware of programs or applications that are contrary to this privacy statement we will take steps to remediate the issue. 

Privacy Principles

The City of Seattle Privacy Principles were adopted as City Council Resolution #31570 on February 23, 2015. This set of six principles provides an ethical framework for developing appropriate policies, standards, and practices regarding the public's personal information. These principles outline our commitment to collect only the personal information that is necessary, tell you how we use and share your personal information, why we keep it only as long as necessary or required by law, and how we protect it from misuse.

Public Records Act

In the State of Washington, public disclosure laws exist to ensure that the public has a right to access records and information possessed by City government, as appropriate (The Public Records Act or "PRA" RCW 42.56). The PRA requires the disclosure of public records unless a particular record (or particular information contained in a record) is specifically exempt from public access under the PRA or other applicable law. In the event of a conflict between this Privacy Statement and the Public Records Act or other law governing the disclosure of records, the Public Records Act or other applicable law will determine our obligation. This means the City may be required to disclose your information in the event of a Public Disclosure Request; however, we will consider what information may be exempted before responding to a request.

Washington State Record Retention Law

Washington state law, RCW 40.14 drives the City's records retention requirements and determines our obligation to keep or dispose of information collected by the City. The City endeavors to adhere to the requirements outlined in applicable state and federal regulations regarding collection, retention, and elimination.

Surveillance Ordinance

The City of Seattle Surveillance Ordinance (Ordinance 125379 and SMC 14.18) is designed to provide greater transparency to City Council and the public when the City acquires any technology that meets the City's definition of surveillance. This process outlines the appropriate policies around acquisition of privacy -invasive technologies and their subsequent use by City departments. This process includes an emphasis on public engagement, education, and equity concerns.

Advanced Metering Infrastructure Ordinance (AMI)

The Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Program allows electricity meters to transmit usage data to the utility automatically. AMI programs have raised concerns in some communities about whether specific technologies allow utilities to have near real- time access to customer energy usage. The City conducted a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) on the use of the technology to outline the privacy impacts of the project and provided usage and access guidelines for the type of data collected. The purpose of the AMI Ordinance is to primarily codify the safeguards that protect customer's personal information (including consumption data), and ensuring the data collected is only used for utility-related business.