Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Ferguson File Header

Dear Friends,

Even with the beautiful summer weather this July and August — my office has been busy protecting the people and environment of Washington state.

We held two major companies accountable for data breaches, one the largest insurance company in the Pacific Northwest and the other as part of the largest data breach enforcement action in U.S. history.

We filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Navy in efforts to protect the vulnerable wildlife and communities on Whidbey Island.

We challenged the Trump Administration’s abhorrent treatment of immigrant children and their unlawful expansion of the “public charge” rule. We also eliminated another corporate chain’s “no-poach” rule.

I remain tremendously grateful for the hard work of all the attorneys and professional staff in the Office of the Attorney General.

As we continue to defend affordable health care, Washingtonians’ privacy and workers’ rights, you can read about it here with summaries containing links to news releases, claim forms and an inaugural Labor Day report.

In this issue:

Thank you for following the work of the Attorney General’s Office.

Sincerely,

Bob-Signature

Bob Ferguson
Washington State Attorney General


Keeping personal data safe

Keeping Washingtonians’ personal data safe

This July my office held two companies accountable for failing to reasonably secure Washingtonians’ personal data — Equifax, a major credit-reporting agency, and Premera Blue Cross, the largest health insurance company in the Pacific Northwest.

Equifax will pay more than half a billion dollars because of a 2017 data breach affecting nearly 150 million individuals nationwide. Up to $425 million of that will go directly to consumers who were harmed. This is the largest data breach enforcement action in U.S. history.

To check if you were impacted and for information on filing a claim, visit www.equifaxsettlementbreach.com.

The resolution with my office, 49 other attorneys general and the federal agencies involved,  asserts that Equifax failed to put procedures in place to fix security issues — despite being alerted to the vulnerability in its network — leading to the breach.

From May 2017 through July 2017, hackers had access to Equifax’s network, affecting approximately 148 million consumers across the United States. More than 3 million Washingtonians’ personal information was compromised.

Similarly, Premera will pay $10 million over its 2014 data breach that affected the private health care information of over 10.4 million individuals.

Premera had an obligation to safeguard the privacy of millions of Washingtonians — and failed. As a result, millions had their sensitive information exposed. Hackers had access to sensitive personal information, including private health information, social security numbers, bank account information, names, addresses, phone numbers, member identification numbers and email addresses.

More information about the class action is available here.

When companies handle Washingtonians’ personal data, we expect them to keep that information safe. Premera misled Washingtonians and other consumers nationwide about its privacy practices before and after the data breach. Equifax also fell short in its obligations. These resolutions hold Equifax and Premera accountable to the millions of individuals who had their information stolen.

KING-5 News
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson breaks down the latest with the Equifax data breach – New Day Northwest  

KOMO News
Premera Blue Cross pays states $10 million over data breach

The Seattle Times
Premera Blue Cross pays states $10 million over data breach


 

Attorney General Bob Ferguson at press conference

Fighting the mistreatment of immigrant children

This August, I filed a lawsuit seeking to block new Trump Administration rules that remove significant protections against the mistreatment of immigrant children and families apprehended at the U.S. border.

These new rules allow for prolonged, even indefinite detention in facilities without adequate standards of care. They also strip states of their role in regulating the minimum standards for facilities that house immigrant children for the federal government.

Watch the press conference conducted by my office here.

The inhumane conditions in which the federal government is currently holding vulnerable immigrant children — violating standards established by the Flores Agreement more than two decades ago — warrant immediate intervention by the court.

Interviews with immigrant children and teenagers in Washington state facilities, conducted this past month as part of Washington state’s oversight authority, revealed appalling “prison-like conditions” at federal detention facilities. Prolonged detention of children and families under these conditions will have profound, long-term impacts on their mental and physical health.

Some of these children’s heart-wrenching stories are detailed in a declaration Washington expects to file in the coming weeks. I encourage everyone to read this declaration, but I warn you that the children’s stories are emotionally difficult to read.

The declaration reveals disturbing experiences, including insufficient food and basic necessities, intentional sleep deprivation, lights being kept on 24 hours a day and freezing temperatures. One girl recounted that guards at the federal detention facility “would throw the food on the ground at them as if they were animals, and because there was not enough food to go around, fights would break out among the kids over the food.”

These children deserve safe, sanitary conditions. Under the Administration, immigrant children have been held for weeks in inhumane conditions without access to basic necessities like clean water, toothbrushes, showers, soap or a place to sleep.

The Trump Administration’s cruelty undermines our American values. The Administration’s blatant disregard for judicial orders and the basic human rights of immigrant children simply cannot continue. I ask the court to block the implementation of Trump’s new rules and declare them invalid, immediately.

The Seattle Times
Migrant children now in Washington state tell of haunting conditions at the boarder as AGs file suit

Crosscut.
In suing Trump, again, WA attorney general surfaces abuse allegations from detained children

KIRO-7
AG Ferguson: Trump administration’s ‘mistreatment’ of immigrant children violates court settlement

iFiberOne
Washington AG contends court should instruct Trump Administration to stop maltreatment of immigrant children


Healthcare professional

Defending affordable health care — 3 things to know

The health care of more than 800,000 Washingtonians is being threatened by a group of Republican attorneys general who are seeking to eliminate the Affordable Care Act (ACA), without any replacement.

The Trump Administration has refused to defend the ACA, and the tens of millions of people who rely on it. Once again, my office and a multistate coalition of twenty states and the District of Columbia have stepped up. We have filed a motion to appeal the decision of a federal district court judge in Texas who declared the ACA invalid, including its guarantee of coverage for those with preexisting conditions.

Since ACA went into effect, Washington’s uninsured rate dropped by 60 percent. Without the ACA, hundreds of thousands of hardworking Washingtonians will lose access to affordable health care coverage, and many more will face devastating cost increases.

Check out this video outlining 3 things to know about Washington’s involvement in this lawsuit.

We will continue fighting to protect Washingtonians’ access to affordable health care all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

Spokane Public Radio
Washington Joining Suit to Protect ACA


 

Child of a legal immigrant in the U.S.

Protecting families against new “public charge” rule

In August, I co-led a coalition of 13 states in filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over changes to the “public charge” rule. The Trump Administration’s new rule unlawfully expands the definition of “public charge” to the detriment of immigrant families legally in the U.S.

Under long-standing law and policies, a public charge is an individual whose survival depends upon one specific public benefit —  cash assistance —  or who is institutionalized for long-term care at government expense. This does not include temporary assistance, such as food or housing assistance or health care.

The new rule violates the Immigration and Nationality Act by defining “public charge” in a way unconnected to its original meaning and Congress’ intent.

Under the new rule, if an immigrant who is legally in the country uses benefits to which he or she is entitled — such as food assistance to feed their U.S. citizen children or housing assistance —  even for as little as four months, the federal government may revoke their legal status or even deport them. The rule will harm Washingtonians by detering legally present individuals from using important assistance programs.

Even if an individual does not use these benefits, the new rule expands the government’s ability to deny a visa or permanent residency to any immigrant it predicts will use a broad range of short-term benefits at any point in the future, without clear standards for making that determination.

The Trump Administration is forcing families into an impossible choice — to sacrifice their dream of becoming Americans in