Bill offers added protections for personal health care data

Apr 18, 2023, 12:19 PM

nurses health care data...

Nurses attend a patient, (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

A bill intended to close the gap on health data privacy protections, provide people with more control of their health care data, and protect those who come from out of state to access reproductive and gender-affirming care has passed the state legislature.

The vote follows a Northwest Progressive Institute poll that showed 76% of Washingtonians support stronger privacy protections for their health data.

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“Websites, apps, and health tracking devices lack the basic protections we’ve come to expect when sharing our personal health data,” Rep. Vandana Slatter (D-Bellevue), the House sponsor, said. “There is no way to consent or even know about it. We must protect the data of Washingtonians and all who travel here.”

“People have a right to keep private health data private,” Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said. “With the My Health My Data Act, Washington becomes the national leader in informing and obtaining consent from consumers when companies collect, share, and sell their health care data. It is crucial that people have the ability to request that their private data be deleted once collected, and this bill allows them to do so.”

HB1155 will:

  • Require entities that collect Washingtonians’ personal health data to publish a distinct privacy policy to disclose how they use that health data;
  • Prohibit entities from collecting and sharing Washingtonians’ health data without their consent;
  • Protect Washingtonians’ sensitive health data from being sold to third parties without valid authorization;
  • Guarantee Washingtonians the right to withdraw consent and request their data be deleted; and
  • Restrict geo-fencing around health-care facilities to send Washingtonians messages.

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The bill creates two ways to enforce the law: either the Attorney General’s Office can investigate violations and pursue litigation, or Washingtonians can bring their own civil lawsuits.

“Washingtonians deserve the right to decide who shares and sells their health data, and the freedom to demand that corporations delete their sensitive health data — and will now have these protections,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.

This legislation is one of the only data privacy bills in the nation that includes a private right of action.

The House approved the bill with a 57-39 vote in March. The bill passed the Senate with a 27-21 vote on April 5 but with amendments. The House agreed to those amendments today. It will now head to Gov. Inslee for his signature.

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Bill offers added protections for personal health care data