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Businesses oppose WA state bill to protect consumers’ biometric data


Businesses are opposing proposed legislation in Washington state that would ban commercial interests from collecting and selling personal biometric information without obtaining consent, says a Geekwire report.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Jeff Morris, a Democratic legislator in the Washington House of Representatives, aims to prohibit capturing the biometric identifiers of an individual for a commercial purpose unless certain conditions are met.

According to the report, the proposed bill would require a company or persons to obtain an individual’s specific consent to enter biometric identifiers into a biometric database, and would only allow companies to keep biometric data in the system for a limited period of time.

The report also notes that a company or person who collects the biometric information would not be allowed to sell or transfer that data to another party without the original person’s consent. Several confidentiality rules would have to be followed.

Rep. Morris told Geekwire that: “The outcome that we’re looking for is to stop the surreptitious collection of your most personal information. People should have the right to know when that will be used.”

Opponents to the bill include the Association of Washington Business, the Washington Retail Association, the Washington Technology Industry Association, and TechNet, which is a network of technology executives.

The business community argues that the bill’s definitions of biometric technical terms and business practices need more work and that the bill does not address privacy issues in a comprehensive manner. Rep. Morris reportedly drafted the bill to the have the widest definition of biometric systems possible, which has upset business organizations.

This is the second attempt at advancing such a bill. Rep. Morris did pass a similar bill in the Washington House of Representatives last year, but it was not approved by the state senate. No such legislation has passed in the U.S., but other such similar legislation is pending in California.

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