Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pittsburgh Council Discusses E-Mail Privacy

At least two members of Pittsburgh City Council today suggested they believe members of the Ravenstahl Administration are monitoring council's emails. Those comments arose during consideration of Councilman Bill Peduto's electronic communications privacy legislation.
Under Peduto's bill, a city employee who wants access to another city employee's email would have to receive approval from the department director and the city solicitor before the director of the City Information Systems would release it.
Assistant City Solicitor Kate DeSimone told Council that most e-mails of public employees are considered to be public record but there are many exceptions in state and federal laws.
Council President Doug Shields and Councilwoman Tonya Payne said they believed their e-mail had been monitored by someone in the administration. Shields asked if the legislation was intended to solve a current problem or to prevent something in the future. "I think we've got a few snoops around here."
Assistant Solicitor DeSimone said "the fact that the bill (Peduto's legislation) has been introduced, means there is a perception that employees and supervisors are trying to read each other's's not a good perception for the city that we are invading each other's privacy on a regular basis."
Councilman Patrick Dowd says he doesn't want to take away the right to have someone read his e-mail but if a fellow council member or administration official is reading his (Dowd's) e-mails, then he(Dowd) should know about it...."The e-mail system is no different than fuel and vehicles, than money and backhoes, there should be no expectation of privacy."

Council delayed for a week a preliminary vote on Peduto's measure.

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