WR expresses concerns on health data privacy bill

Mar 16, 2023
Written by WR Communications

Washington retailers have been at the forefront in shaping our state’s public policy on consumer data. Their efforts work to safeguard the rights of consumers and enable individuals to utilize their data for their own benefit as they see fit—all within a regulatory system that provides clear, practical, and efficient guidance for consumers and businesses alike.

We are steadfast in our commitment to help policymakers in developing such public policy and drives our close collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General. Through this partnership, we actively contribute our constructive recommendations regarding about this proposed bill.

Washington retailers appreciate the legislature’s efforts to protect information that consumers recognize relates to their individual health conditions and diagnoses when attempting to obtain individual health care services. The Association’s issues with HB 1155 are not related in any way to these goals.

WR has concerns regarding the current definitions in the bill which are so broad and so spacious that they could arguably apply to a wide array of transactions consumers regularly make with retailers, grocers, and other service providers that neither the consumer nor the business would consider relating to an individual’s personal health condition or diagnosis. These broad definitions create a vagueness that could only be resolved through costly and time-consuming litigation. More importantly, the ambiguity threatens the ability of the bill to quickly achieve the very same public policy goals on which it is based.

Washington consumers and responsible businesses simply want to follow the law will instead have to wait until the courts decide what the bill means. This is the reason WR has proposed specific and focused changes to the bill so it aims squarely at health care without implicating the countless other transactions we believe would inadvertently be included.

There is a better way. We need to ensure the definitions in this bill accurately describe the scope of transactions and decisions that consumers and retail employees rightfully expect to be related to their health. We have proposed several amendments to the Attorney General and we appreciate his team’s good faith consideration.

While progress has been made, we have yet to achieve our ultimate goal. We need to build a workable, practical, and effective regulatory system that will produce predictable results for Washington consumers and businesses. Our members feel strongly about this bill because it is their customers and their sales associates—you, your friends, and neighbors—who will be called on to make this bill work through millions of individual sales transactions.

We look forward to continuing our discussions with the Attorney General and the bill’s supporters and look forward to reporting back as our collaborative efforts continue.


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