- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has appointed Laura Negrón as the city's first chief privacy officer (CPO).
- As CPO, Negrón will be responsible for improving the city's data sharing and mining processes, and promoting citywide protocols "relating to the collection, disclosure and retention of individually identifiable information," according to a statement.
- Prior to this role, Negrón served as General Counsel and CPO for the Mayor's Office of Operations, where she helped to create the Citywide Data Integration legal framework.
Data privacy and security has been a top priority for New York City this week. Just a few days prior to Negrón's appointment, De Blasio announced the launch of NYC Secure, the city's first-ever cybersecurity initiative aimed to protect New Yorkers from malicious cyber activity on their smartphones. This action comes on the heels of a citywide ransomware attack in Atlanta that has rocked the city's technical infrastructure, and of a hack that shut down Baltimore's 911 dispatch system.
As cities increase the amount of data they're collecting — and therefore become bigger targets for cyberattacks — developing a dedicated cybersecurity lead or team is necessary to remain protected and resilient. So far, only a few U.S. cities, including Seattle and Phoenix, have developed the role of a chief privacy officer, though interest in the position may soon increase considering New York's influence as a leader in city governance.
In late 2017, Santa Clara County, CA — known as Silicon Valley — welcomed Mike Shapiro as the county's first CPO, tasked with protecting information for all 1.9 million residents. In an interview with Smart Cities Dive, Shapiro said the need for such protection on a local level is becoming increasingly prevalent. "The negative impacts of identity theft and credit card fraud and other types of fraud are now becoming so significant and it's affecting people's lives so much, I think it's elevated that need [for a CPO]," he explained.
In a statement, Emily Newman, Acting Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations, noted that city residents are in "good hands," stating, "No one is more prepared to guide the City's data privacy strategy." Considering Negrón's 40-year career in public service leadership, including her past experiences as a privacy officer, her guidance is likely to spark responsible data innovation across all city departments.