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Seattle Re-Ups Privacy Commitment with Appointment of City Program Expert

The woman behind Seattle's push into the city-driven privacy protections has returned from the private sector to lead the program once again.

The city of Seattle has named Ginger Armbruster to lead its data management and privacy efforts as its chief privacy officer (CPO).

Seattle’s Privacy Principles were established in 2015 as part of an effort to better define the way the city collects, uses and disposes of constituent data. Armbruster will now lead the effort within the Information Technology Department.

“The privacy program we launched in 2015 with input from privacy thought leaders from across the country, our community, industry and City departments is important for our community,” Armbruster said in a city press release. “I’m excited to get back to building this ground-breaking program.”

The newly appointed CPO previously worked as the privacy program’s manager, and led the charge to implement the Privacy Principles within city government. According to the city’s announcement, Armbruster most recently served as a senior privacy manager for Microsoft.

“The City has an obligation to earn the public’s trust in how it collects and uses their data,” Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller said in the press release. “Ginger’s knowledge and experience working with our community will drive improved privacy practices across City departments and increased public engagement. We are fortunate to have Ginger join our talented workforce.”

When the privacy program was first announced in early November of 2014, the city was still dealing with months of controversy around the police department’s use of cellphone trackers. The focus on data privacy was meant as a way for the local government to re-examine its stance on its data practices.

“The trick that we really need to work on as part of our privacy efforts here in the city is to help the public trust in what we’re doing,” Mattmiller said at the time. “There were some issues over the past couple years where the city made some decisions around technology, and we didn’t take that step of engaging the public to help them understand what we’re trying to achieve, and that’s created a bit of a gap at the moment.”

Eyragon Eidam is the managing editor for Industry Insider — California. He previously served as the daily news editor for Government Technology. He lives in Sacramento, Calif.