For the second year running, lawmakers in the state of Washington again failed to pass sweeping data privacy legislation. The Washington Privacy Act or SB 6281, which is akin to GPDR in the European Union or CCPA in California, would have regulated public and private facial recognition use and required testing and training in the state, which notably is home to Microsoft and Amazon. The bill would have created a facial recognition task force to make recommendations and study the quality of facial recognition services, and allowed individuals to request companies delete their data.
Senator Reuven Carlyle (D – Seattle) today said in a statement that a conference of lawmakers failed to reconcile differences related to whether the state attorney general or consumers in courts should have the power to enforce the law.
“Following two historic, near-unanimous votes on proposals in the Senate this year and last, I’m deeply disappointed that we weren’t able to reach consensus with our colleagues in the House,” Carlyle said. “The impasse remains a question of enforcement. As a tech entrepreneur who has worked in multiple startup companies, and in the absence of any compelling data suggesting otherwise, I continue to believe that strong attorney general enforcement to identify patterns of abuse among companies and industries is the most responsible policy and a more effective model than the House proposal to allow direct individual legal action against companies.”
Privacy regulation also cosponsored by Carlyle last year failed in the Senate over disagreements.
The Washington Privacy Act or Senate Bill 6281 passed with a 46-1 Senate vote in February, then passed the Washington state House of Representatives in a 63-33 vote on March 6 with a range of amendments. Rejection by the state senate of the amended law triggered a concurrence meeting with members from both parties.
A 2019 version of the Washington Privacy Act also made its way through the Senate in a 46-1 vote but died in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Zack Hudgins was also part of the concurrence meeting and said lawmakers were unable to overcome disagreements over consumer-focused enforcement of privacy laws.
“Strong Attorney General enforcement was never the issue, it was the role of consumers that proved impossible to reconcile. These issues of privacy, and the data economy, are not going to fade in Washington state or nationally,” Hudgins said in a statement.
Washington lawmakers are considering a range of bills this session related to biometric data privacy and facial recognition regulation.