washington state capitol

Washington State Lawmakers Introduce Legislation Regulating Data Privacy, Facial Recognition

The data privacy bill would give consumers the right to access and delete data collected about them, while the facial recognition legislation would regulate government use of the software.

Following in the footsteps of their West Coast neighbors, Washington state legislators have introduced legislation to regulate consumer data privacy and the government’s use of facial recognition software.

The Washington Privacy Act mirrors regulations put in place by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which went into effect just this month. If the bill is signed into law, consumers would have the right to access, delete, correct and move data that companies have collected about them, according to GeekWire. Customers would also have the option to opt out of data collection.

Regulations will apply to companies that process or control the data of 100,000 consumers or more, GeekWire reported. In addition, companies must be either located in Washington or target services to customers living in the state. That means that some of the largest tech companies in the country, including Amazon and Microsoft, would be affected since they are headquartered in the Seattle area.

“We’ve really tried to be thoughtful and respectful of the needs for business and industry to operationalize this program, so that it’s not implementing a new layer of burden on top of them but it is also recognizing that those consumer rights are foundational,” state Sen. Reuven Carlyle, the bill’s sponsor, said at a news conference on Monday.

In addition, companies that make more than 50 percent of their earnings from selling personal data or control data of more than 25,000 customers would have to comply with the law, which would go into effect on July 31, 2021. State and local governments, municipal corporations and information such as health data would not be affected.

The WPA follows a failed effort to pass a similar bill last session, during which a privacy bill passed the Senate but died in the House. Carlyle told reporters that the legislation takes the best elements of the CCPA and GDPR, and that lawmakers have “95 percent agreement in principle” on most elements of the bill.

Carlyle’s bill touches on regulation for facial recognition technology, including a requirement that companies allow third parties to test for accuracy and bias. State Sen. Joe Nguyen introduced a separate bill on Monday that focuses on government use of facial recognition. The legislation would regulate law enforcement use but not enforce an outright ban. California is enforcing a moratorium on facial recognition in police body cameras for three years.

Among several measures, the bill would require agencies to publish an accountability report outlining how it uses the technology and how long it would be used. In addition, state agencies would be required to disclose how long the facial data was retained and used as well as whether human review is part of their process, according to POLITICO.

In an interview with Washington news outlet Crosscut, Nguyen said he and other legislators have spoken with a wide variety of organizations, particularly those representing communities of color, about their concerns over facial recognition.

Government agencies will not be able to use the technology for “ongoing surveillance” under the new legislation, and surveillance of protests would require a warrant. Humans would have to review the software’s conclusion to make sure it’s working, Nguyen said.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.


  • Planning for Your Perimeter

    Planning for Your Perimeter

    The perimeter is an organization’s first line of defense and a critical element of any security and surveillance program. Even if a building’s interior or exterior security is strong, without a solid perimeter surveillance approach any company or business is vulnerable. Read Now

  • The Key Issue

    The Key Issue

    It is February 2014. A woman is getting ready in her room on a cruise ship when she hears a knock on the door; it is a crewmember delivering breakfast. She is not presentable so she tells him to leave it by the door. Read Now

  • Achieving Clear Communications

    Achieving Clear Communications

    Technology within the security industry has adapted to numerous changes through the years, from the early days of analog devices to today’s IP-based solutions, networked cameras, and access control solutions, in addition to analytics, cloud-based products, virtual security guards, and more. Read Now

  • Taking Flight

    Taking Flight

    Airport security is a complex system that incorporates multiple technologies to ensure the safety and security of travelers, employees and the facility itself. Sound-based technologies are integral pieces of this system, providing means of communication, notification and monitoring. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

New Products

  • PACE® Long Range Ethernet Solutions

    PACE® Long Range Ethernet Solutions

    Altronix introduces the newest addition to its portfolio of PACE® Long Range Ethernet Solutions. 3

  • ComNet NW1 Gen 4

    ComNet NW1 Gen 4

    ComNet, Communication Networks, is announcing the introduction of its Generation 4 line of NetWave® wireless products that offer greater performance and increased stability in applications where throughput and increased bandwidth is increasingly important. 3

  • Camden Door Controls Application Spec Guide

    Camden Door Controls Application Spec Guide

    Camden Door Controls, an industry-leading provider of innovative, high quality door activation and locking products, has published a new application spec guide for specification writers designing a wireless barrier-free restroom control system. 3