*UPDATED: Preserving Victim Privacy While Increasing Law Enforcement Transparency: Finding the balance with Open Police Data Initiatives

We are pleased to announce the release of a package of resources to support law enforcement, advocates and communities in in efforts to ensure victim privacy and safety while increasing transparency through Open Data and the Police Data Initiative.

First released in January of this year, “How Law Enforcement Agencies Releasing Open Data Can Protect Victim Privacy & Safety” was written together with the Police Foundation for law enforcement agencies. This guide describes the need for victim privacy to be a central consideration in efforts to share data with the public, including specific recommendations.

A companion handout written for advocates is now also available. This resource emphasizes the importance of advocates’ involvement in decisions to release police data online, and includes basic information to support advocates in joining those conversations.

Supplementing these written resources, we are making available a pre-recorded webinar conversation between representatives of NNEDV, the Police Foundation, and privacy experts from the Vera Institute, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, and the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University.

Background from previous post:

One of the hallmark efforts of the Obama administration was to improve the relationship between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Work to increase “open data” included the Police Data Initiative, which encouraged local jurisdictions to provide access to information about 911 calls, stops, arrests and other police activities so that members of those local communities could look both at individual cases, as in some high-profile events covered by the media, and at trends that might reveal disproportionate response over time.

Over the more than two decades since the Violence Against Women Act was first passed in 1994, we have seen improvements in criminal justice system response to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking when advocates and law enforcement work together to improve systems. We also know that there is more work to be done to improve response overall, and particularly in marginalized communities.

As we continue to work with law enforcement to improve the response to victims and communities, we have a need to ensure the privacy and safety of victims who interact with law enforcement. Police data released to the public has the potential to reveal victims’ identity and consequently put them at risk of further harm, harassment or damage to their reputation.

For more than a year, Safety Net has explored the issue of maintaining victim privacy and safety while supporting the overall intention behind the Police Data Initiative with the support of the Office on Violence Against Women (U.S. Department of Justice) and Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and in partnership with the Obama White House, the Police Foundation, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Sunlight Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and others.

This project was supported by Grant No. 2016-TA-AX-K064 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.