Washington State Lawmakers Propose Privacy Bill -- Again

Lawmakers in Washington state on Monday introduced a law that would give state residents new privacy rights, including the ability to opt out of targeted advertising.

“We as individuals have a fundamental right to know how our data's being used,” State Senator Reuven Carlyle, who is sponsoring the Washington Privacy Act, said Monday. “We have a right to access that data. We should have the right to delete that data ... And we should have the right to opt out from targeted ads, the sale of our data, and profiling.”

A similar bill was passed by the Senate last year, but stalled in the House. Since then, lawmakers have held talks with consumer privacy groups as well as tech companies, Carlyle said. He added that there was now “overwhelming consensus” on some components of the bill. 

But the bill's enforcement provisions appear likely to spur criticism from consumer advocates, because the measure doesn't give individuals the right to sue over violations. Instead, the bill tasks the state attorney general with enforcement.

Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the industry funded think tank Future of Privacy Forum, characterized the proposal as “the most comprehensive state privacy legislation proposed to date.”

He stated: “It includes provisions on data minimization, purpose limitations, privacy risk assessments, anti-discrimination requirements, and limits on automated profiling that other state laws do not.”

Consumer advocacy groups were among the critics of last year's failed proposal.

Organizations including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Consumer Reports told Washington state lawmakers that the prior version of the bill was so weak that it would “set a dangerous precedent for privacy legislation nationally and in the states.”

The Association of National Advertisers and other ad industry groups also opposed the bill that was unveiled last year, arguing that any legislation regarding online privacy should be national.

Carlyle countered Monday that state laws were necessary, on the theory that Congress isn't likely to move forward soon.

“We live in a time when the federal government has struggled to take a stand on the weather,” he said. “The federal government -- if they decided tomorrow to pass a federal privacy bill, it would take them four years at a minimum to do it.”

Next story loading loading..