Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

Schneiderman joins lawsuit over municipal ID card records

December 21, 2016

As published by Politico on December 21, 2016.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed an amicus brief Tuesday evening supporting the city in an ongoing lawsuit over data collected by the municipal ID card program.

In the motion, Schneiderman argues in part that publicly releasing any information obtained through the program will put thousands of people at risk of identity theft and hate crimes.

“The threat posed by the public disclosure of nearly 900,000 New Yorkers’ personal information is a matter not only of local concern but also of state concern, as it greatly increases the risk of identity theft and of hate crimes, and the prevention and prosecution of crime is a quintessential state concern,” the brief reads.

Two Republican assembly members from Staten Island, Nicole Malliotakis and Ron Castorina, announced earlier this month that they had initiated a lawsuit against the city to prevent City Hall from destroying records related to the program.

The lawsuit was in response to a promise by Mayor Bill de Blasio to purge the records to protect the thousands of undocumented immigrants who have applied for the card. De Blasio made the announcement in the days following the election of Donald Trump, who has vowed to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

The lawsuit argues that the possible destruction of records would violate the state’s Freedom of Information Law. Malliotakis also has said the ID data “could be helpful in the future to investigate a crime perpetrated with the use of an IDNYC card.”

But Schneiderman’s amicus brief argues that the Freedom of Information Law exemptions for personal privacy would cover the records and that disclosing them to federal authorities or anyone who requests them would in fact undermine the terms to which the applicants agreed when they applied for the card.

“The State has a strong interest in ensuring that FOIL does not become a mechanism for undermining governmental pledges of confidentiality like the one made here by the City to program participants,” the brief says.

The ID program was created by the City Council and de Blasio in 2014 and included a provision to destroy records related to cardholders’ identities after two years. That provision was inserted to help allay concerns among undocumented immigrants that their personal information could be handed over to federal immigration officials.

Both de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito have said they plan to move ahead with the record destruction.

Read the filing here: http://bit.ly/2hSDhXP