Utah Privacy Officer: state plan will help Utahns know their rights

Apr 26, 2023, 4:06 PM | Updated: May 4, 2023, 10:35 am

PPAU and ACLU are attempting to get a judge to grant a preliminary injunction against a new Utah la...

PPAU and ACLU are attempting to get a judge to grant a preliminary injunction against a new Utah law, banning abortions in clinics. (Annie Barker /Deseret News)

(Annie Barker /Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY– Utah’s Chief Privacy Officer (CPO) is working to create a plan that outlines how state government can protect Utahns’ privacy rights. 

The move comes in response to an executive order issued by Gov. Spencer Cox on Friday. The order requires CPO Christopher Bramwell to offer privacy policy recommendations to Utah agencies by August 1 of this year.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox Executive Order on Developing a Strategic Privacy Plan by Simone Seikaly on Scribd


Bramwell said he will be working with the 12-member Personal Privacy Oversight Commission to ensure the governor’s requirements are met. 

“From getting a driver’s license to registering to vote to opening a business, state government requires the disclosure of personal information for almost all of the services it provides,” Gov. Cox said in a statement.

“This is a sacred trust and we want to make sure that every state agency has a set of policies and procedures that will protect the privacy of all Utahns.”

A privacy bill of rights

Bramwell said this is also an opportunity for Utahns to become familiar with their privacy rights, including the right to:

  • access government records,
  • receive notice when the government uses personal data, 
  • data deletion, and
  • the limited use of personal data. 

“[Utahns] don’t realize privacy is not just ‘hey, keep my data secret,'” Branbwell said. “It’s (also) constraining use of it.”

Utah as a privacy leader

Bramwell told KSL NewsRadio that Utah is already unique in the way it handles residents’ personal data.

“That became very apparent during COVID,” he said. “There were states that […] shared a lot more information about vaccination records, immunizations, and […] where people who are possibly infected with COVID were.

“Utah’s approach was different, and you saw people move to Utah because of that.” (KSL NewsRadio was unable to independently verify this statement.)

However, Utah still has some gaps. 

For one, Bramwell wants the new plan to clarify when government agencies should notify the public over when data use changes. Also, Bramwell says there should be a reporting process when a data breach occurs. 

Utah has had some privacy blemishes in its record 

A massive privacy scandal in 2020 led to the creation of Bramwell’s position.  In 2019, surveillance company Banjo contracted with the state and Intermountain Healthcare to collect data on residents’ coronavirus status and “real-time” movements in the state. State auditor John Dougall said the state was holding onto more driver’s license and controlled substance information “than seemed necessary.” 

However, Bramwell says this strategic plan is intended to inspire trust from Utah residents in the state government. 

“If the public knows what you’re doing and they know there’s someone competent in place to implement it, then they’re going to trust you.”

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Utah Privacy Officer: state plan will help Utahns know their rights