Washington could join Virginia and California as one of a handful of U.S. jurisdictions with consumer privacy legislation after a bill cleared one of its chambers nearly unanimously.
Senate Bill 5062, dubbed the Washington Privacy Act, passed 48-1 in the state Senate on Wednesday. It would give consumers the right to access, correct, and delete personal data collected by businesses, and companies would have to issue privacy notices and adopt reasonable security standards.
The state Senate has passed similar iterations of the bill two years in a row, but they have failed to garner enough support in the state House, where debates over enforcement and the bill’s lack of a private right of action have stalled progress.
Advocacy groups such as the ACLU of Washington have criticized the inability of consumers to sue over violations, saying the current Senate bill is too business-centric and fails to give consumers meaningful privacy rights.
A competing bill co-created by the ACLU of Washington, the People’s Privacy Act, was introduced in the Washington House in January. It would require companies to obtain opt-in consent for the collection and use of personal information and would also give consumers the ability to sue.
If the Washington Privacy Act succeeds, Washington would follow in the footsteps of Virginia, whose consumer privacy law was approved by the governor earlier this week. California became the first state to pass this type of comprehensive legislation in 2018, and an updated version of the law was greenlit by voters in November.
Washington’s regular legislative session is scheduled to adjourn April 25.