Indvisibles ask legislators to OPPOSE both data privacy bills, SB 5062 and HB 1850

Mail sent by Indivisible Plus Washington to the Washington State House of Represntatives. Please add your voice!

Subject: Indivisibles ask you to OPPOSE both data privacy bills, SB 5062 and HB 1850

Speaker Jinkins, Minority House Leader Wilcox, and Members of the Washington State House of Representatives,

I’m writing to you on behalf of Indivisible Plus Washington, a statewide group of over 20,000 activists, urging you to OPPOSE both data privacy bills, SB 5062 and HB 1850.

We want Washington state to lead in protecting people’s data. However, as a recent South Seattle Emerald op-ed says, Tech Companies Want to Write Their Own Rules on Data Privacy. Don’t Let Them.

In January, Indivisibles across the state outlined critical principles that legislation needs to align with to provide meaningful protection. Last month, a dozen Indivisible groups also signed on to the Tech Equity Coalition’s letter with a similar list of principles. The two data privacy bills being considered, SB 5062 and HB 1850, do not align with any of these principles.

SB 5062 would continue to allow behavior such as using information that thousands of students across the state provide as part of their college application process to target ads at those students or a suicide hotline sharing chat logs with an AI company without even telling people, let alone asking permission. SB 5062 is riddled with loopholes, exemptions, and nuanced definitions that undercut the “rights” it allegedly provides. ACLU of Washington’s February 28th letter, attached, describes the problems with this legislation in more detail.

We also want to highlight issues with how the data privacy commission is defined in the current version of HB 1850.

1. No public oversight.

2. No role for the communities most harmed by privacy abuses.

3. The commission has only three commissioners, with no term-limits, and needs broader community representation. If even two commissioners favor the tech industry, the commission will represent the tech industry’s interests — not ours.

We’ve heard many legislators suggest it’s better to pass something and then improve it later. Evidence from other states shows how hard it is to improve bad privacy legislation. In California, voters had to pass a referendum to get even minor improvements. Virginia passed a weak privacy bill based on Washington’s SB 5062 last year, and this year just tinkered around the edges.

We greatly appreciate the work Reps. Slatter and Berg’s willingness to listen to our concerns. The data privacy commission is a very promising idea if coupled with strong regulation, and we hope that future legislation builds on the progress that has been made this session.

However, the combination of SB 5062 and HB 1850 will not protect Washingtonians. We urge you to oppose both bills. Instead, support legislation that protects people, not corporations — like the People’s Privacy Act, HB 1433.

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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