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Consumer Reports: Lawmakers strengthen the Washington Privacy Act; legislators should advance the bill

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Consumer Reports today announced that it is supporting the Washington Privacy Act in the Washington state legislature. The bill was strengthened and advanced by the state House Committee on Civil Rights & Judiciary today. The bill would extend new rights to Washingtonians to access, delete, correct, and opt out of the sale of their personal information, with additional protections for sensitive data. The bill also requires companies to keep this data secure, and prohibits companies from charging consumers for exercising their rights under the law.

The latest draft of the bill is a significant improvement over the previous version passed by the Washington state Senate, and it addresses many of the improvements CR recommended in an op-ed published earlier this month. Amendments added by the House include a requirement that companies honor browser privacy signals as opt-outs, so that consumers can convey their intention to all companies to stop the sale of their information, in a single step. The bill also clarifies that consumers can opt out of targeted advertising, and significantly strengthens enforcement of the bill. Not only does the bill put a sunset on the “right to cure” provision in administrative enforcement, it adds a private right of action, so consumers can hold companies accountable for violating their rights.

Justin Brookman, director of technology policy at Consumer Reports, said, “We appreciate that Washington state lawmakers have worked with stakeholders to strengthen the privacy protections in the bill. We urge legislators to advance the bill, to safeguard the privacy of Washingtonians and provide them with meaningful control over their personal data.”

“Privacy is a right guaranteed by the Washington State Constitution, and we appreciate the years of work that lawmakers have devoted to the bill to ensure that it is workable for consumers and there are appropriate incentives for companies to comply,” said Maureen Mahoney, senior policy analyst at Consumer Reports. “Now it’s time for legislators to act and become just the third state in the nation to pass a comprehensive privacy bill.”

Washington is one of several states where lawmakers are working on privacy measures in the wake of California’s landmark privacy law, which took effect in 2020.

Contact: Cyrus Rassool, cyrus.rassool@consumer.org