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Commission on the Status of Women Calls for Protection of Residents’ Privacy in Campaign Materials

Published on Monday, April 1, 2024 | 4:00 am
 

The Pasadena Commission on the Status of Women is set to discuss and likely approve a letter addressed to Mayor Victor Gordo and the City Council expressing deep concern over the recent disclosure of residents’ personal information without their consent in political campaign materials

The Commission meets on Wednesday, April 3, at 6 p.m. at the Jackie Robinson Community Center.

A draft of the letter, dated March 22, highlights a campaign practice where some candidates for City Council list the names and streets of “supporters” in printed campaign flyers without obtaining prior consent. 

While this practice is not new to city elections, it has raised serious privacy concerns among residents and commissioners alike.

“In California, an estimated one-third of women have experienced some form of physical or sexual abuse from an intimate partner or non-partner, with one in five having survived severe domestic violence,” the Commission’s letter said. 

“Furthermore, the rate of gender-based violence among disadvantaged women, non-binary individuals and transgender Californians is disproportionately high. It is imperative to recognize that some of these survivors live in Pasadena.” 

In the letter, the Commission stressed that the disclosure of personal information, especially addresses, without consent could inadvertently put Pasadena residents at risk.

“Imagine the ramifications if a survivor’s name, street, and city appears on a widely distributed campaign flyer without their knowledge or consent,” the letter, drafted by Charlotte Lacey, Chair of the Commission, said. “The potential consequences to the survivor’s safety and peace of mind must not be underestimated.”

Specifically, the draft letter recommends that the City Council place the issue on the agenda of an upcoming City Council Meeting for discussion and public comment, consider amending the City code to require candidates to obtain prior written consent before identifying residents by name and/or address in campaign materials, and strengthen the City’s voluntary fair campaign practices agreement to prohibit listing residents on printed materials without informed written consent.

The Commission emphasizes the importance of upholding principles of privacy, safety, and equity for all Pasadena residents, especially those in vulnerable situations such as survivors of gender-based violence and undocumented individuals.

The letter also mentioned California’s “Safe at Home” program, administered by the Secretary of State’s office, which provides a confidential address for victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, human trafficking, and others facing threats. The program aims to keep residents’ residential addresses confidential to protect them from potential harm.

To learn more about “Safe at Home,” visit www.sos.ca.gov/registries/safe-home

The Commission said they’re looking forward to working with the City Council to address these concerns and “ensure a fair and respectful electoral process” for all residents.

The draft letter said, “By implementing these measures, the Council can uphold the principles of privacy, safety, and equity for all Pasadena residents, especially those in vulnerable situations.”

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