Protecting Data, Protecting Residents



Today, the Sunlight Foundation is publishing a new white paper that lays out ten principles for responsible municipal data management for local government employees who want to be responsible stewards of sensitive data for their communities.

Individual residents’ citizenship status, nationality, and religion have all become much more politically salient in 2017. Sharing data with the federal government pertaining to vulnerable members of a community creates new potential risks for local residents. Our principles aim to help local governments craft thoughtful practices and policies to protect their residents in difficult times through appropriately protecting their data.

The creation of this resource was driven by increased interest from civil servants about their role and responsibilities under the Trump administration.  If upheld by the courts, President Donald Trump’s January 25 Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States would change the relationship between the federal government and state and local governments on immigration enforcement. Local governments will need to quickly identify the right way to balance local policy obligations and the preferences of their communities with the Trump administration’s expectations for local assistance for federal immigration enforcement.

While it’s easy to find an executive order when it’s posted online, processing the actual content of this order is much more complicated. Responding to it will require some immediate and thoughtful work from local governments. We appreciate the magnitude of what local governments and their communities are being called on to do. We hope that this resource proves helpful in that work.

We are very grateful to many partners who provided their comments and thoughts on this resource, including staff from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union, the Georgetown Center on Privacy and Technology, Center for Popular Democracy, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Datamade, Open Technology Institute, and MuckRock.

You can read, download [PDF] and share our paper below.