WA Privacy Legislation Update – February 14 πŸ’˜

A cartoon of reporters with cameras and mics, surrounding an outhouse with the door closed. A word bubble says "We still don't understand the need for a privacy act. Can you explain it again, commissioner?"

A quick roundup on where the Washington legislature is on privacy bills:

  • ❓ HB 1850, the Foundational Data Privacy Act ❓ is in the House πŸ’° Appropriations πŸ’° committee.Β  The bill is NTIB (Necessary To Impement Budget), so the usual deadlines don’t apply.Β  Representatives Slatter and Berg, the bill’s sponsors, are working with legislators, activists, lobbyists, and the ACLU of Washington on a revised version.
  • πŸ‘ŽπŸ½ SB 5062, the Bad Washington Privacy Act πŸ‘ŽπŸ½ remains in Senate Rules.Β  The πŸ‘ŽπŸ½ Bad Washington Privacy Act πŸ‘ŽπŸ½is 0-for-3 so far, and there doesn’t appear to be a lot of enthusiasm for it this year. Sponsor ReuvenCarlyleΒ  a business consultant, will retire from the legislature after the session to pursue “new opportunities for leadership in other public and private sector arenas”.
  • πŸ’œ HB 1433, the πŸ’œ People’s Privacy Act πŸ’œ — which protects people, not corporations — once again hasn’t gotten a hearing.Β  Yet.

Here’s @ACLU_WA’s comparison chart of how the three bills stack up against their guiding principles.

For❓ HB 1850 ❓to move forward πŸ’° Appropriations πŸ’° needs to vote to advance the bill, probably amending it in the process.Β  (This usually would have happened by now, but since it’s NTIB, the usual deadlines don’t apply.)

πŸ’° Appropriations πŸ’° is a πŸ’° fiscal πŸ’° committee (like the Senate’s πŸ’° Ways & Means πŸ’°), so one of the things they’re deciding on is how much to budget for AGO enforcement and a new data protection commission — and where to find the funding for it.

Since ❓ HB 1850 ❓ didn’t go through the House πŸ› State Government πŸ› committee, πŸ’° Appropriations πŸ’° also needs to consider governance issues with the new data protection commission.Β  How to keep it from being a playground for lobbyists?

Also there are quite a few policy problems with❓ HB 1850 ❓: making the bill fully opt-in, the super-problematic affiliates loophole, non-profit and government exemptions, allowing cities and counties to pass stronger legislation, the private right of action, right-to-cure, …Β  Here’s ACLU of Washington’s has detailed feedback on a slightly earlier version.

An art exhibit in a gallery including black wire in a loop
Loophole For All, by Paolo Cirio

The affiliates loophole highlights an important question. Who is this legislation is designed to protect?

This loophole lets companies with common ownership, aka affiliates, share and sell data freely, without any requirement to ask for consent.Β  The affiliates loophole would let Amazon, Whole Foods, Zappos, diapers.com, AWS, and Amazon’s 80+ brands all share data. 😲 We can’t even opt out. 😱

The sneaky definitions that lead to the loophole were are also in the πŸ‘ŽπŸ½ Even Worse Virginia Privacy Act πŸ‘ŽπŸ½.Β  Reuters recently reported that Amazon drafted the πŸ‘ŽπŸ½ Even Worse Virginia Privacy Act πŸ‘ŽπŸ½. What a coincidence!

It’s also been reported that an Amazon lobbyist gave last year’s πŸ‘ŽπŸ½ Bad Washington Privacy Act πŸ‘ŽπŸ½ to a Virginia legislator as the basis for the πŸ‘ŽπŸ½ Even Worse Virginia Privacy Act πŸ‘ŽπŸ½. Does that mean Amazon also drafted the πŸ‘ŽπŸ½ Bad Washington Privacy Act πŸ‘ŽπŸ½?Β  πŸ‘€

Of course, Amazon’s not the only company that benefits from the affiliates loopholeΒ  WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and MetaQuest (formerly Oculus VR) are owned by the same company.Β  So the affiliates loophole also lets them share data without consent. 😱

The Civil Rights & Judiciary committee advanced a version of ❓ HB 1850 ❓ that made some progress on the affiliates loophole, although hasn’t yet closed it. Big Tech companies is pushing back hard, claiming that even the partial fix will cause the sky to fall.

The affiliates loophole is only one of many challenging issues that need to be addressed with ❓ HB 1850 ❓.

A chicken pointing up and saying "The Sky Is Falling"Privacy advocates want the bill to be fully opt-in.Β  Tech comapanies say that will cause the sky to fall.

The Attorney General’s Office says that ❓ HB 1850 ❓ private right of action needs to be strengthened. Β  Privacy advocates agree.Β  Tech companies oppose even the weak private right of action currently in the bill, which they say will cause the sky to fall.

Privacy advocates point to horrifying stories like theΒ  a suicide and crisis textline for youth that shares data from its chat logs widely, and say that nonprofits should be covered by ❓ HB 1850 ❓. Β Nonprofits say that will cause the sky to fall.

Last week’s reports of a Department of Licensing data breach highlight why government agencies should be covered by ❓ HB 1850 ❓. Β Guess what agencies have to say about that suggestion?

And so on.Β  @ACLU_WA’s detailed feedback has a good list of the issues.

Take action!

The full House is supposed to vote on ❓ HB 1850 ❓ by tomorrow.Β  So if you’re a Washington state resident, it’s a critical time to contact tell legislators that you want a privacy law that to protects people, not corporations!

Here’s how to contact your legislators about ❓ HB 1850 ❓

1. Click here to go to the bill comment page on the #waleg site
2. Provide your address and click “Verify District”
3. Choose your position: OTHER
4. Fill out the form and click “Send Comment”

Your comment can be simple, like:

We need a privacy law that protects people, not corporations.Β  HB 1850 needs to be fully opt-in.Β  Close the affiliates loophole.Β  Remove the non-profits exemption.

Or it can be more detailed.Β  We’ve got a sample script, along with instructions on how to contact your legislators by phone and email as well as the web, here.

It’s possible πŸ’° Appropriations πŸ’° could hold a snap hearing and ❓ HB 1850 ❓ could hit the House floor tomorrow.Β Β  So this is a priority!Β  Please contact your legislators ASAP!

Then again, ❓ HB 1850 ❓ is NTIB (necessary to implement budget), so the usual deadlines don’t apply.Β  We should know more about the plans by tonight or tomorrow.

To be continued!


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