Washington State privacy act earns retailer support

A data privacy bill gathering support in the Washington State Senate protects the interests of consumers and retailers, according to the Washington Retail Association.

The measure is SB 6281. Its primary sponsor is Sen. Reuven Carlyle, a Seattle Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee.  Mark Johnson, WRA’s senior vice president of policy and government affairs, says the measure contains four key provisions:

  • Shared liability among businesses that handle consumer data.
  • Equal responsibility between retailers and data processors in ensuring consumer data privacy.
  • Enforcement solely by the state attorney general, not by a private right of action.
  • Protection of retailer loyalty programs.

[California considers CCPA changes]

Contact Washington state legislators

The current bill marks an improvement over legislation that failed in 2019. It “will hopefully serve as a model for other states and the federal government to ensure consumer data privacy,” according to Johnson.

It takes a more balanced approach than the California Consumer Privacy Act. One concern about the California law, which took effect Jan. 1, was whether customers could ask retailers to delete information that earns them benefits through loyalty programs. The proposed Washington law authorizes a data controller to offer different prices or rates of service to a consumer who voluntarily participates in a loyalty or reward program.

Retailers should contact their state representatives and senators and ask them to support SB 6281. They can find representatives and contact information here. Senators’ contact information is here.

National Retail Federation launches consumer privacy center

Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation has created a Center for Consumer Privacy and Innovation. It will focus on information and advocacy.

“Retailers’ highest priority is the trusted relationships they have with their customers,” NRF says. “In a competitive marketplace like retail, consumers have the power to choose when, how and where they shop. They are willing to provide their personal information in exchange for the products and services they expect and enjoy.

“Government regulations should not impede these customer benefits and services, although many new data privacy laws and regulations, like the California Consumer Privacy Act, restrict how retailers collect and use information to serve their customers.

“NRF’s Center for Consumer Privacy and Innovation will provide thought leadership and strategic counsel in public policy discussions at the intersection of retail and the consumer. Led by retailers, the center will promote and protect innovation in the retail customer experience, develop resources and solutions to assist national and state partners in their advocacy efforts, and drive emerging public policy in technologies that improve and enhance customer service.”

The Home Furnishings Association participates with NRF and other business groups to monitor these issues, keep members informed and influence public policy.

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