Following concerns about how the information will be used by President-elect Trump, New York City announced yesterday that it will stop retaining personal data for its municipal ID program. But for now, the information previously obtained under the program will be kept.
Although the data does not specifically include information on immigrants or immigration status, municipal ID programs like New York’s IDNYC have been attractive to undocumented immigrants, who may not have access to other government IDs. As Trump promises to crack down on immigration, concerns have been raised about how New York stores information on cardholders, and whether law enforcement could use it to identify and deport immigrants.
Mayor Bill de Blasio previously said the city would consider destroying the data through a clause in the law. But yesterday’s announcement did not specifically mention the fate of the hundreds of thousands of personal records already maintained by the city, instead saying only that, starting in January, the city “will be transitioning to a policy that does not involve the retention of cardholders’ personal background documents.”
Meanwhile, as flagged by DNA Info, two state Republican Assembly members are suing to stop the existing data from being destroyed, arguing that the move would conflict with the state’s freedom of information law. One of the Assembly members, Nicole Malliotakis, tweeted yesterday that a court has blocked destruction of the records until a hearing takes place:
“The mayoral administration is not entitled to enact statutes that circumvent the Freedom of Information Law, and should not be able to pick and choose which laws it wishes to follow according to the political affiliation of whoever might occupy the White House,” Malliotakis said in a statement.
“A court has temporarily barred the City from destroying records associated with the IDNYC program,” a spokesperson for the mayor said in a statement. “The Mayor is absolutely committed to protecting the security of our data. As we continue to review all of our options, we are confident that we can keep IDNYC data private.” But facing the lawsuit, the fate of the information suddenly seems murky.
Update, 11:55 AM ET: Includes statement from Mayor de Blasio spokesperson.