Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is on board with efforts to restrict what internet service providers can do with your personal information.
The Democratic governor told reporters Thursday he’s open to new statewide or federal regulations to make internet providers ask before collecting or selling online search history or other customer data.
Such Obama-era rules were set to go into effect, but Congress voted to block them last month.
In response, a huge group of lawmakers introduced two bills on Tuesday that would implement similar restrictions for companies such as Comcast or AT&T.
Inslee, a Democrat, said he’s still looking at what a perfect solution might be.
He said he’s sympathetic to concerns from telecommunication companies that it would be easier to comply with federal regulations instead of a patchwork of individual state laws.
Inslee met with lobbyists from many of the companies Wednesday, including Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and more, said his chief of staff, David Postman.
But that might not happen, and getting new internet data regulations is a priority, Inslee said.
“I think the question is whether or not the state should jump in right now or whether or not there’s any reason to believe the federal government can act with promptness and fashion privacy protections,” Inslee said. “But one way or another, in a reasonable period of time, the state of Washington needs these privacy protections.”
House Bill 2200 has support from at least 74 of the chamber’s 98 lawmakers, and would implement a range of internet data regulations modeled after the Federal Communications Commission rules stopped by Congress.
It’s scheduled for a public hearing Wednesday.
The other measure, Senate Bill 5919, is narrower, but it blocks internet providers from collecting personal information of users “without express written approval.” The bill has 36 sponsors in the 49-person Senate — up from 32 on Tuesday.
Some internet companies, including Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, have said they don’t sell personal data and don’t plan to do so in the future.
Congressional Republicans who voted against the FCC rules said they were unfair, in part because they didn’t apply to other big data collectors such as Facebook.
That hasn’t stopped state officials from trying to put new restrictions in place.
“I think the absence of federal laws and protections is real problem,” Inslee said.