Castorina, Malliotakis Sue to Preserve IDNYC Documents

by Malliotakis on | Nicole Malliotakis

Assemblymembers Castorina and Malliotakis discuss lawsuit in front of Richmond County Supreme Court.

STATEN ISLAND – Today, Assemblyman Ron Castorina (R,C,I,Ref-Staten Island) and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I,Ref-Brooklyn, Staten Island) hosted a press conference in front of Richmond County Supreme Court to announce that they have commenced legal action against the City of New York, seeking injunctive relief to prevent the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA), the agency responsible for administering the IDNYC municipal identification program, from destroying documents collected from program applicants.

The program’s authorizing statute contains a presumption that retention of the records would be “no longer necessary” and directs the administering agency to destroy them – a clause that was inserted, according to one of the bill’s authors, “In case a Tea Party Republican comes into office and says, ‘we want all the data from all the municipal ID programs in the country.”

The lawmakers argue that such action by the City of New York, through the program’s administering agency HRA, would violate the state’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) which was enacted to provide the public with increased awareness and to discourage secrecy. They also argue that IDNYC’s enacting statute violates FOIL on its face, as § 89 (8) states explicitly, “any person who, with intent to prevent the public inspection of a record pursuant to this article, willfully conceals or destroys any such record shall be guilty of a violation.” Furthermore, the City of New York and HRA exceed their jurisdiction by vesting within themselves quasi-judicial power to destroy government records based upon the political affiliation of the incoming President.

“As public servants the most important facet of our job focuses on the safety of our citizens. Destroying the records deemed ‘no longer necessary’ goes directly against that. To play politics with this bill and call for the record destruction and threaten the safety of New Yorkers is both irresponsible and apprehensible. I am appalled at those in support of this clause – the so called ‘public servants’ – and will not stop until we see this changed,” said Assemblyman Castorina.

“It’s ironic that after all the talk of ‘transparency’ during the 2013 campaign season, we have to ask a court to prevent a government agency from destroying its records. It is unconscionable that the City of New York would distribute nearly 900,000 identification cards, then destroy all the documents applicants used to apply for those cards. This data could be helpful in the future to investigate a crime perpetrated with the use of an IDNYC card. As elected officials, we have a duty to protect our constituents from unlawful government action that compromises their safety, and we’ll fight it every step of the way,” said Assemblywoman Malliotakis.

§3-115 (e) (2) of the New York City Administrative Code, as enacted by Int. No. 253-A (2014) states that, “On or before December 31, 2016, the administering agency shall review data collected … and make a determination regarding the continuing need to retain records … and shall make any appropriate modifications to the policy for retention of records related to the New York city identity card program.”

This provision orders the administering agency to ascertain, by the end of 2016, whether the records obtained through the program’s administration should be retained or destroyed.

Subsection (e) (3) reads, subsequently, “In the event that: (i) the administering agency fails to make a determination on or before December 31, 2016 pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subdivision, or (ii) the administering agency determines that records retention is no longer necessary, then the city shall not retain originals or copies of records provided by an applicant to prove identity or residency for a New York city identity card for longer than the time needed to review the application, and any such records in the city’s possession prior to such date shall be destroyed on or before December 31, 2016 or, in the case of an application pending on such date, as soon as practicable after a final determination has been made regarding the application.”

The 9/11 Commission Report recognized the use of stolen identities and fraudulent identification by terrorists, highlighting that all but one of the 9/11 hijackers acquired some form of U. S. identification, some by fraud. In attaining these forms of identification, they would have been allowed to board commercial flights, make rentals, enter government buildings, and other everyday activities. The 9/11 Commission recommended that the federal government set standards for the issuance of important documentation, such as birth certificates, driver licenses and other legitimate sources of identification.

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