A surprise legislative storm ripped through Olympia, Washington last week, and the proposed Washington Privacy Act (SB-5376) took the brunt of the damage. The bill sailed through the Democrat-controlled Washington State Senate on a vote of 46-1, but encountered surprise headwinds in the Democrat-controlled State House.  The House failed to vote on the bill before the April 17th deadline for taking action on non-budget legislation.

Although there is still a chance that SB-5376 can be kept alive until the Legislature adjourns on April 28, the bill’s failure to pass the House is a significant blow for some privacy advocates who saw Washington State building upon the California and European Union privacy laws. State Senator Guy Palumbo, a co-sponsor of SB-5376 lamented the impasse as a “case of the perfect being the enemy of the good.”

The impasse apparently centered on facial recognition technology and the fact legislators invited technology companies to participate in reconciling the Senate and proposed House language, but did not invite consumer advocacy groups.

Ironically, this development could be considered bad news for the companies who would be regulated by privacy regulation, because the forecast demise of this legislation weakens the argument that Congress needs to pass federal legislation to eliminate a patchwork of state laws affecting interstate commerce.

Photo of Erik Dullea Erik Dullea

A member of Husch Blackwell’s Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation team, Erik focuses on administrative/regulatory law, with an emphasis on heavily regulated industries and government contractors. He represents mine operators in MSHA enforcement actions, energy and industrial companies in OSHA enforcement actions, and advises airlines and their pilots challenging FAA and DOT enforcement actions. Erik advises government contractors on transactional matters, bid protests and civil litigation. He holds an active security clearance and has 20 years of experience in the aviation industry as both a Navy pilot and a commercial pilot. Erik is a co-chair of Husch Blackwell’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems practice group.