Senate and house dispute kills data privacy bill | 2020 Legislative Session

OLYMPIA – Groundbreaking data privacy legislation designed to give consumers more access and control over their own digital data died on Thursday, even though it had been passed in both the House and Senate.

That’s because the two chambers couldn’t agree on how the proposed law should be enforced.

Senate Bill 6281, sponsored by Sen. Rueven Carlyle, D-Seattle, would allow consumers to access, correct and even delete their own personal data possessed by large-scale data collecting companies like Facebook or Microsoft. The bill would even allow individuals to opt out of targeted ads.

Under the original Senate version, the attorney general was given authority to enforce the law on behalf of consumers. However, the amended house version would allow private parties to enforce the law, potentially creating a flood of lawsuits.

The bill passed in the Senate by a 46 to 1 vote on Feb. 14 and then went to before the House, which amended the bill then passed it in a 56 to 41 vote on March 6.

But the Senate balked when the bill returned to that chamber this week for concurrence with the House amendments and sent it back to the House with instructions to remove the amendments.

Then the House wouldn’t budge and on Tuesday, the House insisted on the inclusion of the amendments. So a committee made up of members from both chambers were in conference trying to come to an agreement on methods of enforcement for the data privacy policy.

Carlyle announced Thursday that the two chambers of the Legislature were unable to reach agreement on a single version of the bill by the end of the 2020 Legislative Session, citing via written statement that the impasse is related to questions surrounding enforcement.

“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,” said Carlyle in his written statement.

Cameron Sheppard is a reporter with the WNPA News Service.

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