Although Washington is a “part time” legislature, meaning that legislative sessions are limited in duration and lawmakers are not paid as if they were “full time”, legislative and public policy issues are always coming up. When the legislature is not in session in Olympia, the legislature’s standing committees meet regularly to discuss and examine various topics.
The House Technology and Economic Development Committee is currently looking into “invasive technologies”, holding meetings among a wide range of stakeholders, presumably with the purpose of developing legislation for the 2014 session. Here are the 3 top issues the committee is studying over the next couple months:
- Drones: A technology-neutral approach to regulating the commercial and certain non-commercial uses of drones and other visual surveillance technologies.
- Mobile Apps/Spyware: Establishing guard rails for the collection of personal or sensitive information by mobile apps.
- Ubiquitous data collection: Protecting consumer relationships by ensuring consumers understand when data is being collected about them, are informed about sale of their data to third parties, and have an opportunity to consent to or refuse to enter into such relationships.
Issues number 2 and 3 affect the software/tech/web industries directly. While drones are more a purview of the aerospace industry, unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles use lots of software and technology.
WTIA has long been a promoter of robust industry self-regulation, which by and large has worked well to promote innovation, develop new markets and products, allow for consumer choice, spur job creation in Washington and increase prosperity.
While consumer concerns over privacy and unauthorized use of personal and private data are real, it is the government that has shown itself to be the bigger concern over data collection and surveillance than the private sector.
WTIA is developing policy statements on these issues that will promote industry self-regulation as the default regulatory scenario. WTIA will engage in these discussions but will not be seeking to increase regulation or create new liabilities for Washington technology companies. State regulation in areas where state borders are meaningless usually do very little and are more about politics than policy. Certain lawmakers jump on “trendy” issues to make names for themselves but often know very little about the technology or industry they are regulating.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) addressed many of these issues in its 2012 report, Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change. CTIA, the wireless/mobile industry trade group, has published guidelines and recommendations for the mobile industry on data collection and privacy. You can find those here.
If you have any questions regarding WTIA’s government relations and advocacy or wish to get involved, please contact WTIA’s Vice President Lew McMurran.
Support our efforts by contributing to TechPAC, WTIA’s political action committee today!