2022 Washington legislative session: Indivisibles contribute to major tech equity victories!
Once again, Indivisibles across the state worked with the Tech Equity Coalition (TEC) on multiple bills — and helped pass a crucial worker protection bill too.
The highest-profile victory was preventing tech lobbyists from getting the Bad Washington Privacy Act (SB 5062) through. It’s the fourth year in a row we’ve stopped the Sen. Carlyle’s Bad Washington Privacy Act from passing. This year, we also continued to build support for Rep. Kloba’s People’s Privacy Act and worked with Reps. Slatter and Berg to improve their new Foundational Data Privacy Act.
Indivisibles, along with TEC, began meeting with bill sponsors last fall, and helped set the tone of the session and the principles of the debate with our January privacy letter to the Civil Rights & Judiciary committee and a dramatic 7:30 am meeting with Rep. Berg.
Next, we organized, testified and signed in at hearings, contacted our legislators, amplified actions, wrote letters to the editor, signed on to TECs followup letter, and contacted our legislators again.
And then in the final week of the session, Indivisibles joined with TEC, ACLU of Washington, EFF, Consumer Federation of America, and Parent Coalition on Student Privacy in a blizzard of emails and phone calls that stopped the last-ditch shenanigans.
Well done! Thanks to everybody who got involved!
You can’t win ’em all …
The news was not as good on the two other bills we started working on with Tech Equity Coalition in 2021.
SB 5116, Sen. Hasegawa’s Automated Decision Systems (ADS) Regulation, once again didn’t make it out of Ways & Means after the Governor’s Office and state agencies testified that its requirement for algorithmic accountability reports by 2025 was trying to do “too much too soon,” and would put the systems the state depends on at risk. We did our best here in difficult circumstances — the Ways & Means hearing was rescheduled multiple times, but we kept coming back strong with signin actions and submitted written testimony as well — but sometimes the cards are so stacked against you there’s nothing you can do. More positively, Sen. Hasegawa did manage to get a budget proviso authorizing $100,000 for an inventory of state ADS systems so at least by next session we might know how many there are.
Sen. Hasegawa’s facial recognition moratorium, SB 5104, once again didn’t get a hearing. Back in 2020, one of the reasons we opposed Sen. Nguyen’s SB 6280 was a concern that the legislature would use passing SB 6280 and the very limited “guard rails” it put in place excuses to avoid stronger action . Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened both in 2021 and 2022.
… but there was a lot of winning this session!
Other tech equity victories this session included
- Supporting Silenced No More (HB 1795/SB 5520), limiting non-disclosure agreements. Rep. Berry and Sen. Keiser had a brilliant legislative strategy here, and the result was a law that significantly strengthens and broadens the landmark legislation California passed last fall. Whistleblowers Cher Scarlett and Chelsey Glasson got the bill on the legislature’s agenda, and along with Washington Employment Lawyers Association took the lead in the advocacy — Cher for example testified at every hearing, used her public platform very effectively, and worked with WELA drafting the legislation. Indivisibles were much more in a support role here, but still had a big impact helping to show broad support for Silenced No More early on, accounting for almost half the signins in HB 1795’s first hearing.
- Adding racial equity considerations and much more diverse participation to the Blockchain Workgroup (SB 5544/HB 1729). Thanks to the Community & Economic Development Committee, and bill sponsors Sen. Brown and Rep. Senn, for considering and acting on our suggestion!
- Stopping SB 5534 (Verifiable Credentials), another blockchain bill. This well-intended but mistimed and under-specified multi-million dollar investment would have given the tech industry far too much influence in the future direction of key state software systems, and moved us closer to a national ID card. The bill had sailed through the Senate unanimously, and the House policy committee had advanced it with only one no vote. But with less than a day’s notice, TEC and Indivisibles showed up in force for the Appropriations hearing and sent a strongly-worded signon letter. EFF once again helped with timely email and the committee decided not to advance the legislation.