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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Updated Washington State Privacy Act re-introduced

State Issues Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security State Legislation Opt-In State Attorney General Privacy Rule

State Issues

On January 5, the Washington State Privacy Act, SB 5062, (referred to as “2021 WPA” or “bill”) was re-introduced for the 2021-22 state legislative session with some notable changes from the 2020 version. (InfoBytes coverage of the 2020 Washington Privacy Act, SB 6281, available here.) Highlights of the 2021 WPA include:

  • Applicability. The bill will apply to legal entities that conduct business or produce products or services that are targeted to Washington consumers that also (i) control or process personal data for at least 100,000 consumers; or (ii) derive more than 25 percent of gross revenue from the sale of personal data, in addition to processing or controlling the personal data of at least 25,000 consumers (the 2020 version included a 50 percent gross revenue threshold). State and local governments, municipal corporations, certain protected health information, personal data governed by state and federal regulations, and employment records continue to be exempt from coverage. Additionally, the bill adds nonprofit corporations, air carriers, and institutions of higher education to the exemption list.
  • Consumer rights. Consumers will be able to exercise the following rights concerning their personal data: access; correction; deletion; access in a portable format; and opt-out rights, including the right to opt out of the processing of personal data for targeted advertising and the sale of personal data.
  • Controller responsibilities. Controllers required to comply with the bill will be responsible for (i) transparency in a privacy notice; (ii) limiting the collection of data to what is required and relevant for a specified purpose; (iii) ensuring data is not processed for reasons incompatible with a specified purpose; (iv) securing personal data from unauthorized access; (v) prohibiting processing that violates state or federal laws prohibiting unlawful discrimination against consumers; (vi) obtaining consumer consent in order to process sensitive data; and (vii) ensuring contracts and agreements do not contain provisions that waive or limit a consumer’s rights. Controllers must also conduct data protection assessments for all processing activities that involve personal data. Notably, the 2021 WPA removes the requirement from the 2020 legislation that controllers conduct additional assessments each time a processing change occurs that materially increases the risk to consumers.
  • State attorney general. The bill explicitly precludes a private right of action but permits the state attorney general to bring actions and impose penalties of no more than $7,500 per violation. The bill removes the 2020 requirement that the AG submit a report evaluating the liability and enforcement provisions by 2022, but requires the AG to work in concert with the state’s office of privacy and data protection on a technology review report to be submitted to the governor by December 2022.
  • Right to cure. The bill includes a new 30-day right to cure any alleged violation after a warning letter is sent by the AG identifying the specific provisions believed to have been violated.
  • Preemption. Similar to the 2020 WPA, the bill would preempt local laws, ordinances, and regulations, but includes an exception for any laws, ordinances or regulations “regarding the processing of personal data by controllers or processors” that were adopted prior to July 1, 2020.