By Conrad Dudderar
A retired Yukon teacher and an elected city official both voiced privacy concerns this week about recent city council action to acquire data as an economic development tool.
The Yukon City Council, at its March 7th meeting, voted 3-1 to enter into an agreement with Placer Labs of Covina, Calif.
The company will provide software that City of Yukon staff can use to access data for economic development, tourism and marketing. First-year cost is $24,250.
During the March 21st city council meeting, Ward 1 representative Rodney Zimmerman shared his hesitation about the Placer Labs’ agreement and opposition to “tracking” people in Yukon.
“I understand the reasoning behind it, I understand the idea,” Zimmerman said. “I also think we’ve got to be very cautious with things like that because I do believe we’re a couple clicks on a computer away from tracking individuals.”
Yukon’s Ward 1 council member believes the Placer Labs’ agreement is “something we should enter into with caution – and perhaps not.”
Zimmerman was not at the March 7th city council meeting when the Placer Labs’ agreement was formally approved.
A Yukon High School teacher and coach, Zimmerman had to miss the last council meeting because he was participating in parent-teacher conferences that night.
The Placer Labs’ software program is a “marketing tool used by virtually every city around,” Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby said.
“It does not track individual information. It does not share names or addresses. That information will not be shared because that data is not retrieved.”
Mustang is among Oklahoma municipalities that already use the software program to provide data.
“I’ve spoken to Mustang about this it’s been a great tool for them to pull in people,” Selby said at the March 7th meeting.
CAN WE OPT OUT?
Yukon resident Donna Keesee spoke during the March 21st council meeting “on behalf” of her concerned neighbors about the Placer agreement.
“We’d like to express our concerns regarding it being used in the tracking system to see the places of business that are accessed by Yukon residents,” Keesee said.
Addressing the city council under the visitors’ section, she shared concerns about the invasion of privacy and safety.
“We should be able to ‘opt out’ of you checking where we’re going,” Keesee added.
“If you know my address and you know I’m at Lowe’s, then who’s to say that information could not be obtained by someone else? And then there could be problems at my home while I’m out.”
The Yukon woman wondered if there are other community needs that the $24,250 could be spent on “in a much more beneficial way.”
She also questioned whether this is legal without notifying citizens.
“I’ve lived in Yukon for 56 years,” said Keesee, who taught for more than 30 years. “I love living here. I appreciate what you all do to make it a wonderful community to live in and a great place where I have raised my children.”
She then reiterated her concerns about tracking before asking the Yukon City Council to reconsider the matter.
Under state law, city council members could not directly respond to Keesee’s comments at Tuesday night’s meeting. That’s because there was no business item about the Placer agreement on the agenda.
‘CONCERNED ABOUT PRIVACY TOO’
Vice Mayor Jeff Wootton, who cast the lone dissenting vote March 7, previously shared his opposition to “tracking” Yukon citizens through their smart phones. He also referred to privacy concerns.
At the March 7th meeting, Assistant City Manager Mitchell Hort tried to assure Vice Mayor Wootton the Tracer software does not “track the individual” and the data does not show “who the person is.”
“We were concerned about privacy too,” he said.
Hort believes this program will be a great marketing tool for the City of Yukon’s special events by showing which restaurants and other businesses attendees are coming to.