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CR Letter on Washington SB 5813, Establishing Data Privacy Protections

Consumer Reports sincerely thanks Washington State legislators for introducing legislation to advance consumer privacy in Washington State. SB 5813 would extend to Washington consumers important new rights, including new protections over the processing of children’s data and the processing of personal information by data brokers, and by requiring businesses to honor browser privacy signals as an opt out of sale and targeted advertising. 

Privacy protections are long overdue: consumers are constantly tracked, and information about their online and offline activities are combined to provide detailed insights into a consumers’ most personal characteristics, including health conditions, political affiliations, and sexual preferences. This information is sold as a matter of course, is used to deliver targeted advertising, facilitates differential pricing, and enables opaque algorithmic scoring—all of which can lead to disparate outcomes along racial and ethnic lines. 

We particularly appreciate that Part 3 of the bill takes steps to create a workable opt out for consumers. Measures largely based on an opt-out model, like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), could require consumers to contact hundreds, if not thousands, of different companies in order to fully protect their privacy. Making matters worse, Consumer Reports has documented that some CCPA opt-out processes are so onerous that they have the effect of preventing consumers from stopping the sale of their information. This bill, consistent with California law, helps to address this problem by requiring companies to honor browser privacy signals as a “Do Not Sell” signal. Privacy researchers, advocates, and publishers have already created a “Do Not Sell” specification, the Global Privacy Control (GPC), which could help make the opt-out model more workable for consumers. 

For the full letter, please see the attached PDF.