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NYCLU Supports Legislation To Protect Confidentiality Of Personal Information Provided To City Employees

City Council Member Hiram Monserrate has introduced legislation that would prohibit city employees from releasing sensitive, personal information about an individual unless required to do so by law.

The bill is intended to address concerns — raised by public health, immigration rights, education, and civil liberties advocates – that New York City law does not adequately protect against disclosure of confidential information that is provided to city employees.

These advocates believe the proposed law is needed to assure city residents that they can have access to essential city services – such as police and fire protection, health care, services for victims of domestic violence — without fear that personal information will be disclosed.

The bill would codify a mayoral directive, first issued by Mayor Edward Koch in 1989, that prohibited city employees from releasing information regarding an individual’s immigration status. The legislation would extend the scope of this confidentiality policy, barring disclosure of all confidential information obtained by the city — including, for example, medical history, disability status, sexual orientation, and immigration status.

Speaking in support of Int. 326, Donna Lieberman, the NYCLU Executive Director, said “Federal antiterrorism initiatives have led to an extraordinary expansion of the government’s authority to capture, compile, and disseminate personal information. The Access Without Fear bill offers a corrective to the government’s inclination to overreach in its pursuit of evidence of threat’s to the national security.”

The legislation provides that confidential information could be disclosed when required by law; when an individual consents to disclosure in writing; when the individual who provides the information is a crime suspect; or when the information is used solely for statistical purposes.

Click here to read the NYCLU’s testimony.

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