Assembly Passes Legislation Protecting Privacy & Due Process of Innocent New Yorkers

June 30, 2010
Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D-Flatbush) announced the Assembly passed legislation that would limit New York City law enforcement officials from placing personal information in computerized databases – such as name, address or Social Security Number – of individuals who have been stopped, questioned or frisked but not charged with a crime (A.11177).

“While stopping and questioning people on the street based on reasonable suspicion is permissible, if no legal action is taken against the person, his or her personal information should not be databanked and stored in the same manner as if he or she had committed a crime,” Jacobs said. “Collection of that information into a broad, electronic database creates a threat to the right of privacy and, potentially, the unfortunate and incorrect perception that the person is suspected of committing a crime. That’s inappropriate and should not continue.”

The Assembly’s legislation would not prohibit an officer from entering generic characteristics, such as race and gender, into a database. Additionally, nothing would prevent law enforcement agencies from maintaining records of stops, frisks and questioning in traditional formats, such as reports, forms and similar records.

“A strong democracy demands a proper balance between effective law enforcement and individual rights,” said Jacobs. “New Yorkers who obey the law should not be subjected to a lifetime of suspicion. The Assembly’s legislation that I supported would help ensure that stop-and-frisk records may be maintained but cannot be used to create a secret database of persons momentarily suspected but quickly exonerated.”