Recent poll showed supermajority support for laws that will protect Washingtonians’ most sensitive health data
OLYMPIA — Today the Legislature passed a bill Attorney General Bob Ferguson partnered on with Rep. Vandana Slatter, D-Bellevue, to close the gap on health data privacy protections, provide Washingtonians more control of their health data and protect those who come from out of state to access reproductive and gender-affirming care.
The vote follows a Northwest Progressive Institute poll that showed 76% of Washingtonians support stronger privacy protections for their health data. The language in the poll mirrored the wording in the bill, HB1155.
The House approved the bill with a 57-39 vote in March. The bill passed the Senate with a 27-21 vote on April 5, but with amendments. The House agreed to those amendments today. It will now head to Gov. Inslee for his signature.
Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, sponsored a companion bill in the Senate.
The new law will:
- Prohibit entities from collecting and sharing Washingtonians’ health data without their consent;
- Protect Washingtonians’ sensitive health data from being sold to third parties without valid authorization;
- Guarantee Washingtonians the right to withdraw consent and request their data be deleted; and
- Restrict geo-fencing around health care facilities to send Washingtonians messages.
The bill creates two ways to enforce the law: either the Attorney General’s Office can investigate violations and pursue litigation, or Washingtonians can bring their own civil lawsuits, using a private right of action. This legislation is one of the only data privacy bills in the nation that includes a private right of action.
“This law provides Washingtonians control over their personal health data,” Ferguson said. “Washingtonians deserve the right to decide who shares and sells their health data, and the freedom to demand that corporations delete their sensitive health data — and will now have these protections.”
“Websites, apps and health tracking devices lack the basic protections we’ve come to expect when sharing our personal health data,” Rep. Slatter said. “There is no way to consent or even know about it. We must protect the data of Washingtonians and all who travel here. Without a federal policy, this is where we are and the first in the nation bill we need. I’m glad my colleagues and the attorney general are choosing to rise to the occasion in protecting people’s right to privacy, personal agency and safe medical care.”
“People have a right to keep private health data private,” Sen. Dhingra said. “With the My Health My Data Act, Washington becomes the national leader in informing and obtaining consent from consumers when companies collect, share and sell their health care data. It is crucial that people have the ability to request that their private data be deleted once collected, and this bill allows them to do so.”
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