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Wednesday, April 8, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  WA Government

Washington Senate bill would give consumers access to personal data stored by businesses

UPDATED: Sat., Feb. 15, 2020

OLYMPIA – Washington residents would have more control over their data and be able to delete it, make corrections or opt out of having their data used by companies for targeted advertising, under a bill passed by the state Senate on Friday.

“Privacy itself goes to the core of who we are as individuals, as families, as communities,” said Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle.

It would require businesses or other entities that control or process the identifiable data of more than 100,000 people to allow consumers to find out what data is stored about them, correct errors or request deletion. It would also allow people the right to opt out of their data being used for the purposes of targeted advertising, and to opt out of the sale of their personal data. The measure would also set rules for facial recognition technology for companies.

Carlyle noted that 84% of residents indicated that they wanted state-level consumer privacy action in a 2019 poll done by the online news site Crosscut and Elway Research.

Companies that provide facial recognition services would have to test for accuracy across different demographics, according to the bill.

An amendment was proposed by Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D- Seattle, to place a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technologies until it shows no bias against certain demographics but the amendment was not adopted.

“These facial recognition systems are inaccurate not just in identifying individuals of color, but also gender,” Hasegawa said.

Carlyle said the limits the amendment would place on the development of technology are unprecedented.

Under the proposal, Google, Facebook and other companies that use facial recognition would have to be open about their technology so third-parties like Consumer Reports can test for accuracy, Carlyle said. Companies also would be required to disclose their data processing policies to the public.

The bill attempts to build a framework to allow residents to access their data and is modeled after some practices of the European standards of consumer privacy and some California practices, he said

The bill passed in the Senate on a 46-1 vote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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