Rep. Smith introduces five data privacy bills

Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, is using this year’s short session to take on privacy issues in a “big data economy.”

Smith has introduced five bills that establish rights over one’s own data and biometric identifiers, require data brokers to register with the state, create consumer warnings on devices that collect personal information and make a new elected position to handle privacy issues.

“It’s an issue of our liberty,” Smith said. “We need to understand these issues are at the center of what kind of society we build.”

Smith isn’t the only one tackling privacy issues during this 60-day supplemental budget year, during which the Legislature makes adjustments to its biannual budget. In the other chamber, Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, introduced a bill that provides residents with “consumer personal data rights of access, correction, deletion, data portability and opt out of the processing” of personal information, according to the bill report.

Senate Bill 6281 would additionally require certain businesses provide consumers with privacy notices, limit the collection of personal information, establish data security practices and obtain consent from consumers to process “sensitive data.”

Smith criticized the bill because it depends solely on the “under-resourced” attorney general’s office for enforcement.

In order to have a “meaningful” data privacy bill, she argued, individuals should be able to sue large data companies if their rights are violated. She also argued it had too many exemptions on what data is considered “personal information” and to which businesses the rules apply.

Carlyle did not respond to requests for comment.

Smith sponsored House Bill 2364 to enact a “charter of personal data rights” that establishes a right to know information businesses have about consumers, ability to correct or delete information and to opt out.

House Bills 1503 and 2363 would respectively require data brokers to register with the state’s Office of Privacy and Data Protection and declare people have the “exclusive” rights to their biometric identifiers.

The data broker bill, introduced last year, would also mandate registration fees and that the companies provided information regarding how they collect, store and sell personal information, according to a press release.

House Bill 2366 would change the state’s chief privacy officer from an appointed position to a non-partisan elected one with a four-year term.

“It frees it from the influence of being part of the executive branch,” Smith said of the position.

Gov. Jay Inslee created and the Legislature codified the Office of Privacy and Data Protection within the Office of the Chief Information Officer in 2016.

Smith had been part of the effort to introduce the legislation to create the office, she said. Smith said she’s been involved in data privacy issues for so long because she sees the potential to make an impact.

“In my 13 years,” Smith said, “this is one of the most important and generational policy decisions we’ll ever make.”

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