Washington State House Democrats


Slatter statement on veto of COVID-19 health care data privacy bill

OLYMPIA – The following statement was released by Representative Vandana Slatter (D-Bellevue) following the governor’s veto of House Bill 1127.

Digital health tools are an investment in public health and consumer confidence in these tools must be at the forefront of managing future pandemics.”  

“In this new and unprecedented pandemic landscape, policies that reassure Washingtonians their health data will only be used for a public health purpose, can build trust and help our society respond effectively to public health crises.”

“While I am deeply disappointed by the Governor’s decision to veto the HB 1127, I am heartened by the real commitment he’s given me to work further on this emergent issue.”

“At the beginning of the pandemic, HB 1127 set up a framework to reassure Washingtonians that use of contact tracing and exposure notification technologies was voluntary, that COVID-19 health data would be used only for a public health purpose and would be deleted after that use. This bill was a tremendous accomplishment: in the middle of a pandemic and public health crisis, we passed a first-of-its-kind, precedent-setting bill to help secure Washingtonians’ privacy and their health.”

“The language in HB 1127 was constructed around early contact tracing applications, so unfortunately it was not a good fit for evolving vaccine-related technologies and policies. However, this important work does not end here. I appreciate the Governor and his team for reaching out to me with a commitment to work with all parties, including community advocates and the private sector, on providing guidance regarding public health-related digital tools and health data privacy.”

“Cyberattacks on health care systems and infrastructure, the widespread sale of data for profit, and historic and ongoing racism in our health care systems have left many Washingtonians distrustful of government and technology companies. Absent laws and regulations that build consumer confidence in the protection, security, and use of personal health data, we lose an important tool to combat current and future public health threats.”

“The COVID-19 virus has weaponized our very social connections and laid bare long-standing inequities in our society. We need to use every single tool available to defeat it,” said Slatter, who holds Doctor of Pharmacy and Master of Public Administration degrees from the University of Washington. “Every Washingtonian should feel confident that their COVID-19 health data will only be used for this purpose.”

“I am deeply grateful to the many stakeholders who helped craft HB 1127 with a clear commitment to building consumer confidence in the use of digital public health tools, while also protecting our health data from unrelated uses. And I am more committed than ever to making real progress on modern privacy protections next session to deliver innovative solutions to protect Washingtonians’ privacy. I look forward to partnering with the Office of the Governor, state agencies, the private sector, other elected leaders, and community advocates to drive these efforts forward.”