NYC Preps For Information Sharing - InformationWeek

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12/13/2006
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NYC Preps For Information Sharing

Local leaders consider privacy protections.

New York City leaders are trying to make sure that improvements to government technology do not compromise residents' privacy.

The New York City Committee on Technology in Government held a hearing Wednesday to try to address privacy issues that may crop up as the city seeks to promote information sharing between agencies. The talks are in their infancy in the local government, which plans information sharing between agencies.

"Even though the sharing is not yet in place, we felt it was important to get in on the ground floor to make sure that the issues are being thought of so policies addressing them will be put in place," Jeff Baker, committee counsel, said during an interview Wednesday.

The lightly attended hearing focused on how to protect data while emergency responders and other employees move toward dependence on wireless networks, as well as how the city government can protect traditional networks.

"It's a large task to move the city into this area and it's one that's just beginning," Baker said. "New York City is not unique. Federal governments are struggling with it. State governments are also dealing with this. As the technology improves, we can improve services but we need to protect the data."

Baker said the city is trying to make sure that people's private information will not be used for unauthorized purposes or accessed by outsiders, or insiders who do not need it. For example, an individual or family is likely to give more information for human services than other city agencies need.

"Mainly, it's just an issue of privacy, and we want to protect the privacy of the citizens of New York," Baker said.

Local leaders are also considering schedules for data purging.

This week, the University of California, Los Angeles, disclosed that someone broke into a database, leaving about 800,000 current and former students and staff vulnerable to identity theft.

Baker said he questions why the institution retained so much data in the first place.

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