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Hello U.S. Privacy Digest readers!

First-time notes writer here, excited to connect with you in this space as we take a look at privacy happenings across the country. I’m coming to you from Wells, Maine, where we’ve just shoveled out from a classic New England “Nor’easter” and are anticipating the possibility of more snow to come early next week. Such is February in New England — wet and cold.

It might be chilly here, but there’s no doubt state privacy action just keeps heating up.

Virginia is on track to become the second U.S. state with what some might call comprehensive privacy legislation, as the Consumer Data Protection Act this week passed the House and Senate. The state now has until Feb. 11 to enact the bill. Additionally, Oklahoma introduced the Computer Data Privacy Act, and keep reading below for more news out of Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland and Alabama.

I’ve been closely following the Washington Privacy Act, which recently passed the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee and heads to the Senate Committee on Ways & Means for a public hearing Monday. Now in its third iteration, it appears the 2021 WPA will have support in the Senate, with a broader scope and new provisions, including sections for data privacy related to public health emergencies. It doesn’t, however, address key issues that have stalled previous iterations’ passage in the House, namely a private right of action. But an alternative bill introduced this week in the House aims to do just that.

Proposed by State Rep. Shelley Kloba and created by the ACLU of Washington with the Tech Equity Coalition, the People’s Privacy Act includes a private right of action and would make opt-in consent the default for the collection and use of personal information.

After calling for increased privacy protections and enforcement capabilities within the WPA through three iterations, it is not surprising advocates would craft legislation with the strengthened language they have sought. In fact, during a forum on privacy legislation last month, ACLU of Washington Technology and Liberty Manager Jennifer Lee said that was the impetus. “Over the past two years many privacy advocates, technologists, and individuals and organizations representing marginalized communities have opposed the Washington Privacy Act and have consistently called for changes that have not been incorporated into the 2021 version of the WPA,” she said. “So, we’re really excited about this community-driven effort.” 

Whether or not the People’s Privacy Act could pass is questionable, Hintze Law Managing Partner Mike Hintze, told me when we spoke about the WPA last month, but it will certainly make things interesting. “It will affect the dynamic of how the senate bill is perceived,” he said. “And it could create some pressure to continue to move the senate bill with ever-increasing strengthening of those protections for consumers.”

I’ll be eagerly staying on top of the latest developments on these proposals, with a cup of hot cocoa in hand — it is February in New England, after all.

Stay warm, stay safe, and have a good weekend.


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