Washington state’s attempt at data privacy regulation passes key milestone

The Washington state legislature in Olympia. (Flickr Photo / MathTeacherGuy)

Legislation that would give Washington state residents new data privacy rights is moving forward.

Two companion bills in the Washington state legislature passed out of their respective committees last week, one step on the journey to becoming law. The legislation would allow consumers to access, correct, delete, and move the data that companies meeting certain thresholds collect on them. It also establishes new guardrails for companies developing or using facial recognition technology.

“This bill is designed to give consumers some control of this kind of data by creating the right to decide what is collected, for what purpose it can be used, who can use it, and when it must be deleted,” said Rep. Shelley Kloba, the House bill’s sponsor, in a statement. “I am pleased that this legislation is advancing so that we can continue to work with our colleagues in the Senate to build consensus on which companies these laws will apply to as well as mechanisms for consumers to enforce their rights.”

If enacted, Washington would follow California and the European Union’s leads in establishing data privacy regulations.

Update: A separate bill that would pause state and local government use of facial recognition technology for three years also passed out of committee last week. The goal of the legislation is to give lawmakers time to enact regulations to govern the controversial new technology.

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