WR supports bills to protect consumer data privacy

Jan 22, 2020
Written by Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs

Washington Retail members are in support of companion state bills under consideration by the Legislature to protect consumer data privacy.

I testified today in support of the proposed substitute to House Bill 2742, prime sponsored by Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland, in the House Innovation, Technology & Economic Development Committee. Its companion, Senate Bill 6281, prime sponsored by Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, is scheduled for a vote tomorrow in the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee.

The bills contain four key elements of agreement among many legislators, retailers and stakeholders following the issue.

They are:

  • Shared liability among businesses that handle consumer data
  • Equal responsibility between retailers and data processors in ensuring consumer data privacy
  • Enforcement solely by the state Attorney General, not by a private right of action
  • Protection of retailer loyalty programs

WR’s members have reached consensus on terms in the proposed legislation.The legislation will hopefully serve as a model for other states and the federal government to ensure consumer data privacy.

The consumer data privacy issue is Washington Retail’s top priority item in the 2020 Legislative Session, scheduled for adjournment on March 12.

Retailers have no higher priority than earning and maintaining trusted relationships with their customers. They expect us to protect the information they share with us and use it in a responsible manner to connect them with our products and services.

The consumer data privacy bills we are supporting comply with principles adopted by our members. The members believe that any legislation must:

  • Avoid private rights of action and liability shifting
  • Preserve customers service, convenience and benefits
  • Narrowly define personal information
  • Provide uniformity and industry-sector neutrality. We support requiring businesses that handle consumer information to have direct legal obligations and honor consumer privacy rights requests

Allow flexibility to determine the most secure and reliable channel for consumer notification and request. This would ensure that both the privacy and security of communications and the timely and accurate processing of customer rights requests are achieved in the most appropriate manner for each situation.