Washington’s Legislature would be smart to restore online privacy protections. No wonder this has strong bipartisan support.
IN a welcome show of bipartisanship and concern for Washington consumers, state lawmakers are moving quickly on a law to restore online privacy protections.
The proposal would prohibit internet service providers from selling or using private information, such as browsing histories, without a subscriber’s consent.
Similar protections were created by the Federal Communications Commission in October, but Congress voted last month to repeal them.
President Donald Trump signed the repeal last week, affirming his willingness to unwind Obama-era efforts to increase broadband regulation in recognition that it’s now an essential utility.
Before Trump’s ink was dry, state lawmakers introduced their proposal to create privacy protections for Washingtonians.
This is good legislation that should be made law. State residents do not want records of their online activity sold to the highest bidder, especially without being asked first.
Broadband and telecom regulation is largely the province of the federal government, but sponsors believe Washington has authority, in part by extending its consumer-protection rules.
The privacy legislation also dovetails with the state’s 2015 data-breach law requiring consumers to be notified when they are part of a widespread release of personal information.
People should have control over their digital information. They need to be asked before it is shared, as the legislation would require.
This worthy legislation comes with a remarkable show of bipartisan cooperation. The Senate version, SB 5919, was introduced by Sens. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, and Joe Fain, R-Auburn. In the House, Bainbridge Democrat Drew Hansen presented HB 2200, along with Reps. Dave Taylor, R-Moxee, and Norma Smith, R-Clinton.
By providing its residents with more control over their personal information, Washington state would do more than protect privacy.
It would also be restoring trust in services on which residents, companies and government are increasingly dependent. The erosion of that trust is a far greater threat to innovation and growth than privacy-protecting regulations.
Lawmakers’ good work on these protections is also a timely reminder that they really can work together across the aisle to get things done quickly. Keep it up, folks.