Washington Privacy Proposal Will Spur 'Frivolous Litigation,' Ad Industry Warns

A proposed privacy bill in Washington state could “unleash a flood of frivolous litigation,” the major ad industry groups said Tuesday.

The Washington Privacy Act, unveiled last month in the state Senate, would give residents new rights to control data about themselves.

The proposed bill would specifically empower consumers to access, delete and correct data about themselves, and the right to prevent the use of their data for targeted ads or profiling.

The measure also would explicitly prohibit companies from charging different fees, or providing different levels of service, to consumers who do not want their data stored or used by companies.

The bill introduced in the Senate (SB 6281) would task the state attorney general with enforcement. But a companion bill in the House (HB 2742) was amended on Friday to include a provision allowing consumers to sue over violations.

That ability, known as a private right of action, “would flood the courts with frivolous lawsuits driven by opportunistic trial lawyers searching for technical violations, rather than focusing on actual consumer harm,” the American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Advertising Federation, Association of National Advertisers, Interactive Advertising Bureau, and Network Advertising Initiative said in a letter sent to Washington Rep. Timm Ormsby.

“A private right of action would expose businesses to extraordinary and potentially enterprise-threatening costs for technical violations of the bill rather than driving systemic and helpful changes to business practices,” the ad groups write. 

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