Washington State House Democrats


Landmark biometric privacy bill signed into Washington State law today

OLYMPIA – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill today prohibiting businesses from collecting and selling your personal biometric information without your consent.

Rep. Jeff Morris (D-Mt. Vernon) sponsored the bill to protect consumers from new, invasive technology that can identify a person through such things as fingerprints, eye scans, the shape of your face, the way you walk or how you touch a touch-screen device.

Besides restricting the random collection of biometric data without consumer consent, the law also prevents the sale of a person’s biometric data, leasing, or disclosing a biometric identifier for a commercial purpose unless a consumer consents.

“This is not science fiction any more, companies are actually using these most private of identifiers to collect different data about your habits in order to market to you and many other things,” Morris said. “This is the first bill in the nation that gives consumers personal ownership and control of their biometric data for perpetuity.”

If used properly, Morris said biometrics can protect against identity theft and fraud. However, the Legislature often plays catch up when it comes to regulating new technology. “This law will help industries understand biometric use restrictions before the technologies are widely deployed,” Morris said.

The bill (ESHB 1493) passed the House and the Senate with large bipartisan support before heading to the governor’s desk for signature. Morris thanked the good work by Rep. Mark Harmsworth (R-Mill Creek) who created a bipartisan dialogue with industry to get a policy result that works for consumers and technology developers.

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