Testimony of New York State Senator Thomas K. Duane Before the New York City Council Housing and Buildings Committee in Support of Int. 374-A

June 28, 2007

My name is Thomas K. Duane and I represent New York State's 29th Senate District, which includes the Upper West Side, Hellfs Kitchen, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, and part of the East Side, including the East Village, Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village and Waterside Plaza. I am here today to testify in support of Int. 374-A, proposed by Council Member Garodnick, that would amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to regulating the use of electronic access systems for certain multiple dwellings and the dissemination and retention of information obtained by such systems.

I have long had concerns about landlords' use of technologies to control access to residential buildings and, in fact, for the past several years have carried legislation in the State Senate that would prohibit the use of facial recognition technology in the entrances of most multiple dwellings. I am also supportive of legislation introduced by New York State Assembly Member Brian Kavanaugh, and recently passed in the Assembly, that prohibits the use of electronic entry cards that record identifying information as a means of access.

Tenants should simply not be required to provide personal identifying information, such as their photographs, addresses, dates of birth, and social security numbers, in order to obtain electronic devices, like key cards, necessary to access their own homes. Similarly, access to tenantsf homes should not in any way be restricted if they choose not to obtain such devices.

Tenants deserve to feel safe in their own homes, not as if management is watching them. Electronic access systems invade tenants' privacy by tracking and recording their comings and goings and create serious civil rights concerns by gathering private information that could potentially be shared or become available to the public. Moreover, since there are enough reliable security systems currently available that do not infringe on the privacy of tenants, these electronic access systems are wholly unnecessary.

That said, the courts have upheld landlords' right to implement these intrusive electronic access systems. Given their unfortunate legality, Int. 374-A is an important legislative effort to protect tenants by regulating the use of such systems. Among other things, it prohibits landlords who intend to install an electronic access system from requiring tenants or their guests to provide private and personal information including but not limited to date of birth, social security number, or photographic image; requires landlords to purge information collected by such systems every 30 days; tightly restricts dissemination of information collected; and establishes penalties for violations.

I strongly support Int. 374-A, and I applaud Council Member Garodnick and his 31 co-sponsors for advancing it. I urge the City Council to pass this legislation expeditiously and to continue to defend to the extent legally possible the rights of tenants throughout our great city of New York.

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