We are beginning our third week of an intense, 60-day legislative session. Later this week, I will send you an overview of many of the important issues before the Legislature this year. But, today, I am writing to inform you of one of the most important issues I have been immersed in on your behalf since I came to the Legislature in January 2008: your data privacy. This debate is happening right now in Olympia.
As the ranking member on the House Innovation, Technology and Economic Development Committee, I am directly involved with this issue, carefully reading all proposals and doing my best to advocate for policies that put YOU – the consumer – first. But the reality here in Olympia, at least at the moment, is Big Tech is working tirelessly to pass a corporate-centric bill crafted to their liking. Although this legislation declares you have rights about your data, it is laden with exemptions and exceptions, and prevents you from accessing justice if your rights are violated. Remember: Your online data could include information about your health, finances, education, political views and other affiliations.
Senate Bill 6281, and its companion, House Bill 2742, have already received hearings in their respective chambers. In both hearings, a handful of businesses signed in supporting the bills. However, and most importantly, consumer rights advocates did not and are sounding the alarm in opposition.
An alternative solution
If you are going to criticize something, you should offer an alternative solution. And that’s what I have done through proposing House Bill 2364. It is drafted in plain language with these principles in view:
- It should empower consumers.
- It should clearly state corporate responsibilities.
- It should have strong enforcement.
As advocates for consumers, both the state Attorney General
and the ACLU signed in support of my bill. You can watch my testimony on this
You can also learn more about my other data privacy bills in this news
I am also grateful for two letters from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) on January 22 in which the group expressed its concerns with Senate Bill 6281, and commended my legislation – House Bill 2364 – stating: “The straightforward and plain language in the bill is a ‘breath of fresh air’ to those of us who struggle to read legislation that is typically more convoluted and makes it easier for the public to understand.” You can read both letters below.
I am not asking you to simply take my word on the proposals before the Legislature. Please read them at these links:
Senate Bill 6281 | House Bill 2742 (The Washington Privacy Act)
- Senate Bill 6281 (substitute bill)
- Senate Bill 6281 (non-partisan bill analysis)
- House Bill 2742 (full bill)
- House Bill 2742 (non-partisan bill analysis)
House Bill 2364 (The Charter of Personal Data Rights)
I know this is a lengthy email, but data privacy is critical to your future. I thank you for staying with me and reading to this point.
If you want meaningful consumer data privacy protections, there is no time to waste. Now is the time to make your voice be heard. Decisions and votes will happen in the next couple of weeks.
Here are ways you can be involved in the legislative process:
- Call the Legislative Hotline: 1.800.562.6000
- Comment on a bill
- Email state lawmakers
- Reach out to your family and friends to get involved
If you have any questions, comments or concerns about this issue or any other, please don’t hesitate to contact me. My email address is Norma.Smith@leg.wa.gov, and my phone number is (360) 786-7884. I look forward to hearing from you.
It is an honor to serve you.