Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning , Governance & Risk Management , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development

Using AI in City Services: The Privacy Conundrum

Ginger Armbruster on Privacy, Data Compliance Issues Facing Municipal Governments
Ginger Armbruster, chief privacy officer and IT division director, city of Seattle

AI integration in city governments introduces complexities, particularly around privacy and data compliance. Determining what data is being used or accessed has become increasingly challenging as existing systems and platforms may extract or incorporate data, including information previously unknown, said Ginger Armbruster, chief privacy officer and IT division director for the city of Seattle.

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The gap between private sector and public sector implementations adds to the difficulty. Government agencies often become early adopters of AI products not fully adapted for public use, leading to compliance issues and unanswered vendor queries, Armbruster said. Public records requests mean they need to hand over any data requested. "And if that data isn’t retained, we have a problem."

"We joke sometimes that we become QA for those products that are new to the government use," she said. "The private sector perspective is very different and because we have public records requests and compliance around certain privacy and other laws that apply differently to government, we find that those products don't necessarily have baked into them the means for us to comply."

In this video interview with Information Security Media Group at Cybersecurity Implications of AI Summit: North America West, Armbruster also discussed:

  • AI's impact on privacy laws and public records requests;
  • Differences between the private and public sectors in AI product readiness;
  • Data ownership and retention challenges in municipal AI implementations.

Armbruster is responsible for four citywide programs, including the privacy and surveillance compliance program, the Citywide Public Records Act program, the open data program, and the compliance and policy program. She spent the first 20 years of her career working in sales and marketing for Fortune 500 companies including IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Johnson & Johnson.

About the Author

Michael Novinson

Michael Novinson

Managing Editor, Business, ISMG

Novinson is responsible for covering the vendor and technology landscape. Prior to joining ISMG, he spent four and a half years covering all the major cybersecurity vendors at CRN, with a focus on their programs and offerings for IT service providers. He was recognized for his breaking news coverage of the August 2019 coordinated ransomware attack against local governments in Texas as well as for his continued reporting around the SolarWinds hack in late 2020 and early 2021.

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