Smith data privacy bills advance in House

A trio of consumer data privacy bills sponsored by 10th District Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, are making their way through the legislative process.

“People are worried about the privacy of their personal information — and rightly so,” said Smith. “Every day we are continually bombarded by news reports of data breeches and cyber-attacks that could cause serious economic and personal harm individually, and threaten our economic and national security. These bills are crafted to address different aspects of the growing concern about personal data security, cybersecurity and cyber threats.

“We can continue to lead as a state in technology innovation, but we must be proactive on data privacy issues for all Washingtonians.”

HB 2119, which had a public hearing in the House Finance Committee Feb. 23, slightly raises the Business and Occupation (B&O) tax rate paid on the sale of customer “smart metering” data. It would fund cybersecurity and privacy training for local governments, and a task force to consider the establishment of a state office of the privacy commissioner. Smith believes policymakers should consider the benefit of having someone at the state level whose sole task is to keep track of relevant issues, inform the public and advocate for individuals in the rapidly changing 'big-data' economy.

HB 1896 passed the House Technology and Economic Development Committee unanimously on Feb. 20. It establishes a statewide minimum privacy policy for disclosure of customer energy use data. Currently, investor-owned utilities are subject to data privacy policies as enforced by the state Utilities and Transportation Commission; public utility districts (PUDs) and other power providers are not. Smith's bill would extend the policies to the PUDs and other services collecting energy data within homes. The Washington PUD Association testified in favor of the bill.

HB 1008, approved Feb. 13 by the House General Government and Information Technology Committee on a 6-1 vote, requires local governments to adopt performance standards for protection of people's data privacy and authorizes the state auditor to conduct data protection audits.

“I've been working with my Democratic colleagues on these bills, and I appreciate their strong support,” said Smith. “This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue where the threat of data privacy invasion is growing exponentially. I believe we have a duty to do everything we can to help protect people's personal information from breach or exploitation.”

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov