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Privacy and data security

“It doesn’t happen overnight. There is a steady drip of erosion of the right to privacy. If we wait to care about privacy only after it’s gone, it’s probably too late. I firmly believe we can both protect the public and respect the public’s privacy and due process rights. In fact, I believe we’re obligated to do both.”

- Supervisor Simitian

Regulating surveillance

Supervisor Simitian’s “Surveillance-Technology and Community-Safety Ordinance” was the first in the nation to provide meaningful oversight and transparency for all government surveillance at the local level. The 2016 law spells out what actions are required before allocating public funds for the purchase or use of surveillance technologies.

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Privacy Center of Excellence

Santa Clara County, like every other county in the country, collects and retains sensitive and personal information about its constituents (health, financial, voting, criminal records and more). Most of that information is in electronic format and online. In 2017, at Supervisor Simitian’s urging, the County committed itself to becoming a Privacy Center of Excellence to ensure private and secure data for County residents in its own operations and from outside breaching attempts. As part of this program, the County hired its first Chief Privacy Officer.

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Election security

The United States has more than 3000 counties, and it is these smaller local governments that actually run our polling places, collect our ballots and count our votes. Increasingly it becomes evident that a safe, free and trustworthy election cannot be taken for granted. As recently as 2016, California was one of 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers. In order to address these concerns Supervisor Simitian led the Board’s effort to beef up election security measures prior to the 2018 elections; to raise awareness and begin sharing best practices, he organized the County’s first election security conference in 2019.

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