Indivisible letter to Sen. Cantwell and Rep. McMorris Rodgers on federal privacy legislation

With a hearing scheduled tomorrow on the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, co-sponsored by Rep. McMorris Rodgers, and reports that Sen. Cantwell will soon be holding a hearing on her Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act she’s drafting, Washington state Indivisible groups have a great opportunity to influence federal privacy legislation. Here’s email we sent today to Sen. Cantwell and Rep. McMorris Rodgers.

Subject: Washington state Indivisibles want to work with you to pass strong privacy legislation this session

Indivisibles across the state of Washington care passionately about data privacy. It’s an issue that affects all of us, and our families, in our daily lives — and it’s also an important civil rights issue. So we are very excited to see the draft American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) released with bipartisan sponsorship, and are eagerly looking forward to seeing the revised Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act.

Indivisibles have invested a lot of time and energy working with state legislators, the Tech Equity Coalition, and Washington People’s Privacy Network on privacy legislation over the last several years. Earlier this year, a dozen Indivisible groups wrote to Washington state legislators outlining the critical principles any data privacy bill needs to align with in order to provide meaningful protection.

  • Start with a focus on protecting people, not corporations
  • Protect every Washingtonian’s privacy, not just people who have good technology access and the skills, time and energy to object to their data being used
  • Combine well-resourced state enforcement with a strong private right of action.
  • Require affirmative consent (opt-in) for sharing, selling, or using data — including using it for targeted advertising or marketing
  • Allow cities and counties to pass stronger laws.
  • Close loopholes that limit or eliminate the protections the laws claim to provide
  • Protect all aspects of our privacy — as workers, students, health care recipients, and Washingtonians interacting with our government, as well as consumers.

We are encouraged to see language in ADPPA and the earlier version of COPRA addressing many of these principles. Of course, the devil is in the details. One of the priorities is to explore how effective the legislation will be at stopping the kinds of data abuses that are occurring today. It is also critical to look ahead, understand developing threats to data privacy, and implement language that allows for future regulation and protections.

So it is extremely important to us that federal legislation does not preempt Washington state’s own future privacy legislation. Thanks to the years of work legislators, civil rights and community groups, and tech companies have done on privacy, we believe we are likely to pass strong legislation in 2023. While we appreciate the work that ADPPA has done to explore a “partial preemption” approach, we would prefer the clarity and simplicity of a bill that is fully non-preemptive.

As the bills move through the legislative process, we look forward to working with your staff to understand how effective they will be at stopping data abuse — and to supporting legislation that aligns with these principles and protects us and our families.

Signed,

Indivisible Plus Washington
Wallingford Indivisible
Snohomish County Indivisible
Indivisible Washington’s 8th District
Indivisible Bainbridge Island
Indivisible Tacoma
Olympia Indivisible
Indivisible Eastside (WA)
North Kitsap Indivisible
Indivisible Skagit
Lower Columbia Indivisible
Indivisible Whidbey

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Indivisible Plus Washington

Indivisible Plus Washington is a state-wide organization focused on voter engagement and turn out, fighting disinformation, and combatting systemic oppression