Washington State privacy legislation: Update

Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

 

UPDATE – March 2020 – Washington Privacy Act fails again

It was almost given for granted that the Washington Privacy Act would have passed this time. The Washington State House and Senate were debating two similar bills. The difference was in the enforcement mechanism: while in the House’s Bill both the Attorney General’s office and any Washington resident had a right of action, the Senate’s bill allowed only fines by the Attorney General’s office. The House’s version was preferred by consumers’ organizations and the Attorney General’s office itself, while the Senate’s one was preferred by the tech companies (even if some of the most important tech companies had ended up coming around the House’s version at last).

On March 12, 2020, the House and the Senate could not find an agreement and thereafter the two legislative bodies announced that the Privacy Act could not be passed. They also announced an intention of working again on the legislation next year.

UPDATE:

On January 15, 2020 there was the first public hearing on a new version of the Washington Privacy Act  by the Washington State Legislature Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee held Wednesday. This is Senate Bill 628.

The comments on the Bill were mixed. Several representatives of the several industries (including technology, retail, and banking) and consumer advocates testified. Some commented that the Bill could serve as a national model; others were negative: their concerns focused principally on the point that the Bill granted exclusive enforcement authority to the state attorney general, while a private right of action for consumers is missing. Also, the preemption of local laws was seen as negative. Some commented against regulation of the commercial use of facial recognition.

Quite interesting, Washington Technology Industry Association CEO Michael Schutzler noted that Washington state needs to act to avoid California CCPA to “become the national de facto standard”.

More information in this article

For a comparison between the proposed bill and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), see How the Washington privacy Act stacks up to the CCPA.

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There seem to be no effort to revive the privacy bill that collapsed last April in the Washington State legislature.

What’s happened?

After passing its third reading in the Senate with 46 votes (against 1), SB 5376 has stalled in the House of Representatives.

SB 5376 was introduced January 17, 2019, and it establishes the Washington privacy act. See here.

The Bill was opposed by several U.S. data-privacy watchdogs as being a step backwards on data privacy. Among other issues, the watchdogs highlighted how the bill lacked a private right of action, leaving enforcement authority exclusively with the Attorney General’s Office. See the joint statement in opposition to SB 5376.

More on the Washington Privacy Act (SB 5376) is available at https://app.leg.wa.gov…

Here the text

The last update on this bill in the House is on Apr 28: “By resolution, returned to Senate Rules Committee for third reading.”

For more information on how privacy may impact your business, contact Francesca Giannoni-Crystal. Thanks to Federica Romanelli