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Consumer Reports: Washington state data privacy bill is big improvement over 2019 bill; CR urges lawmakers to go further to help protect consumers

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state lawmakers have introduced a new data privacy proposal called the 2020 Washington Privacy Act. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Reuven Carlyle, would extend to Washington consumers the right 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.

Consumer Reports says the legislation is a significant improvement over the 2019 privacy proposal that was opposed by privacy advocates and failed to get a final vote by the legislature.

The nonprofit consumer organization says it hopes lawmakers will make more improvements in the new bill to provide greater privacy protections and options for consumers.

Justin Brookman, CR’s Director of Consumer Privacy and Technology Policy, said, “We appreciate that Washington state lawmakers have worked with stakeholders over the past year to strengthen the privacy protections in  the bill. This new draft is definitely a step in the right direction toward protecting Washington residents’ personal data. We do hope to see further improvements to get rid of inadvertent loopholes that remain in the text. As we’ve seen in California and in Europe, companies are going to exploit any ambiguities to continue with ‘business-as-usual’ — Washington’s legislation needs to be crystal clear to prevent similar bad faith efforts to wriggle out of the law’s protections.” 


Maureen Mahoney, CR Policy Analyst, said, “Privacy is a right guaranteed by the Washington State Constitution, and we appreciate that lawmakers have included a provision making clear that Washington consumers’ privacy is not for sale. But lawmakers need to take additional steps to make the bill workable for consumers. For example, the bill should require companies to honor browser signals as opt-outs, as the California Attorney General has proposed, so that consumers can exercise their privacy rights with a single step.”

Brookman will deliver testimony at a state Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee hearing on January 15.

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 on January 1.

Consumer Reports worked closely with California lawmakers who crafted the law, and CR testified before the legislature in Sacramento in a successful effort to stop industry efforts to weaken the law.

These efforts by Washington state, California, and others stand in stark contrast to Washington, D.C., where the work for a national privacy law is stalled.


Contact: David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org