Assembly Approves Kavanagh Bill to Create New Personal Privacy Commission

June 22, 2009

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh announced that the Assembly unanimously approved legislation he sponsored, bill A.08156A, which would create a temporary state commission on personal privacy to examine and assess various threats to the personal privacy of New Yorkers and to make recommendations as to how privacy might be better protected. The Assembly vote occurred on June 22, 2009.

New York State historically has been a leader in protecting the personal privacy of its citizens. Today, however, governmental agencies and commercial firms are constantly gathering and distributing more and more detailed information on the personal lives of New Yorkers. The rapid advancement in technology in recent years has created new potential threats to the privacy of individuals. The ability to use such technology to collect, collate, and transmit personal data now allows isolated pieces of information to be compiled into profiles of an individual. No state or federal agency has the responsibility for protecting or even understanding personal privacy in a comprehensive way. Traditionally federal and state law has treated privacy not as a comprehensive whole, but rather in fragments such as medical privacy, telephone privacy, or credit card privacy. At the very least, governments should understand the facts and issues involved in what is happening, and should not wait until threats to privacy have become a fait accompli.

Kavanagh’s bill would help the State identify legislative and policy changes that might enhance protections of personal privacy. The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Senator Carl Kruger.