Microsoft Backs Washington State Privacy Proposal

Microsoft is backing a proposed Washington state privacy bill that would give consumers new privacy rights, including the ability to opt out of ad targeting.

“We believe it is important to enact strong data privacy protections to demonstrate our state’s leadership on what we believe will be one of the defining issues of our generation,” Microsoft Chief Privacy Officer Julie Brill said Friday in a blog post. “People will only trust technology if they know their data is private and under their control.”

Brill's post comes around two weeks after state lawmakers introduced the Washington Privacy Act (SB 6281), which gives consumers the right to access, delete and correct data about themselves, as well the right to prevent the use of their data for targeted ads or profiling. It also would explicitly prohibit companies from charging different fees to consumers who don't want their data used by companies.

Microsoft also backed a similar bill that was introduced last year. That measure stalled after facing criticism from privacy advocates and some businesses.

State Senator Reuven Carlyle, who is sponsoring the bill, said the new proposal is the result of talks with consumer groups and tech companies.

Brill writes that the current bill “has significant improvements” over the version introduced in 2019.

“For example,” she writes, “it now requires companies to tell people why their data is being collected and to use it only for that purpose, ensures companies only collect the minimum data needed for that purpose, and prohibits companies from using data in new ways that are different and distinct from the reasons they collected the information in the first place.”

Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy and technology policy at advocacy group Consumer Reports, testified in support of the new bill last week.

But the Association of National Advertisers expressed concern for several reasons, including the possibility that inconsistencies between various state laws will make compliance difficult.

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