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Privacy and technology bills to watch this session

State legislators are taking steps this session to implement rules governing the use of new technology by companies, governments, and law enforcement agencies. 

Bills are moving through committees in both the House and Senate that aim to put safeguards on the way information is obtained and spread by entities, both public and private. 

Much of the technology and privacy legislation being proposed is centered on strengthening consumer privacy protections and slowing down the rapid implementation of new surveillance technology in public spaces. 

Rep. Mike Sells, Chair of the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee says the flurry of new legislation reflects a need to regain control over the way new technology influences life:  

The more we learn about the misuse of our private data by social media companies and artificial intelligence developers, the more we realize our need to gain back control of the information we wish to share. We’ll also need more transparency around the algorithms developed to make judgements about every aspect of our lives. As a result, there’ll be a rise of more and more legislation around the country to address privacy issues in our homes, our communities and places of work.” 

Rep. Sells compiled a list of several privacy and technology bills to watch this session:

HB 2856 places a three-year moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology by government agencies and private companies in Washington state. Itwas voted out of the Innovation, Technology & Economic Development Committee a few days ago.

HB 2401 requires employers that use Artificial Intelligence in hiring decisions to inform potential applicants of those technologies and obtain consent. The measure out of the Labor & Workforce Standards Committee this past Monday.

Today’s technology develops so quickly and can be so disruptive that it is difficult for traditional democratic institutions to react rapidly and with a balance. We will continue to listen to industry, consumer advocates and experts in order to find this balance between individual privacy and innovation,” said the bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Zach Hudgins, Chair of the Innovation, Technology & Economic Development Committee.

HB 2742, this measure, known as the “Washington Privacy Act” is a comprehensive consumer privacy statute. The companion bill, SB 6281, passed in the Senate Ways and Means Committee yesterday.

HB 2363 declares that people have an absolute privacy right in their biometric identifiers. It convenes a task force to examine issues related to infringement of these rights by biometric surveillance technology and make recommendations to the Legislature. It was voted out of the Innovation, Technology & Economic Development Committee this week.

HB 2365 creates a sticker to notify Washington consumers of products that transmit their user data to the manufacturer or to other businesses. It is in the Rules Committee.

HB 2396 bans the use of bots to incentivize a commercial transaction or engage in political advertising without disclosing that it is a bot. It also calls for an online platform for users to report suspected violations for investigation. A hearing for the measure occured in the Appropriations Committee yesterday.

“It’s clear that we need to press pause, convene stakeholders, and make sure that consumers are protected. When our privacy is at stake, we need to be sure we get it right,” Sells continued.