FPF Comments on Draft Washington Privacy Act of 2021

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Yesterday, on September 30, 2020, FPF submitted comments regarding the draft Washington Privacy Act of 2021. The draft was released by Senator Carlyle, the Chair of the Washington State Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology (EET) on September 9, 2020.

The new version closely resembles last year’s Second Substitute version of the Washington Privacy Act of 2020 (SSB 6281), with a few changes that reflect House amendments from the previous legislative session. In addition, the new draft WPA contains two new sections that would regulate the collection and use of COVID-19-related data by both public and private entities. It is anticipated that the Act will be officially introduced in Washington State at the beginning of 2021.

In the midst of a global pandemic and in the absence of a baseline federal privacy law, we commend the WA legislature’s continued commitment to privacy. We have written previously, and reiterate in these comments, that the protections in the Washington Privacy Act would be a significant achievement for US privacy legislation. However, we have observed deep polarization in legislative debates in recent years, both in Washington and elsewhere. Given the challenges our country faces, the need to reach consensus is more important than ever, and we view meaningful legal privacy protections as both necessary and achievable.

To that end, FPF’s comments identify a number of relevant points of debate between stakeholders, along with practical suggestions for how they might be addressed in the context of the WPA. These include practical recommendations for: exemptions, including for scientific research; enforcement by the Attorney General; and the limitations of the opt-in and opt-out regimes. We are also supportive of the strong collection and use safeguards that Part 2 and 3 of the Act would place on data collected for the purposes of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Read FPF’s comments regarding the Washington Privacy Act of 2021 here
  • Read the full text of the Washington Privacy Act of 2021 here
  • Read a useful overview of the Washington Privacy Act of 2021 released by Sen. Carlyle here.
  • Read about FPF’s participation in July’s Washington State Senate EET Committee Public Work Session on government uses of data and contact tracing here
  • Read FPF’s earlier comparison of last year’s Washington Privacy Act of 2020, the CCPA, the CPRA, and the GDPR here

If you’d like to discuss the WPA in more detail with the FPF team, please reach out to [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected]