ACLU of Washington comment on Senate passage of Washington My Health, My Data Act ESHB 1155

News Release: 
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
OLYMPIA – Today, legislators in the Washington Senate advanced ESHB 1155, the Washington My Health, My Data Act, which removes significant barriers reproductive and gender affirming health care by protecting the privacy of people’s health data.

Currently, people have little insight into, and even less control over how their information is collected, used, shared and sold. While many think that the federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects all their private health data, HIPAA actually only covers data collected by specific health care entities, including most health care providers. Website and app data, among others, are not protected by HIPAA. As a result, people's health information is left vulnerable to be shared by anti-choice groups, used in prosecutions, or employed for targeted advertising. Period tracking apps, for example, can sell sensitive information about a person’s late period or miscarriage to data brokers, who can link that information to a profile for sale on the open market. Law enforcement from states with strict anti-abortion laws or anti-abortion advocacy groups can purchase that data profile and use that information to prosecute people who had an abortion or miscarriage in another state.

The ACLU of Washington supports this bill as a critical step towards defending and expanding access to abortion and gender affirming care in Washington state.

Jennifer Lee, Technology and Liberty Project Manager at the ACLU of Washington, had this reaction:

“We are pleased that the Senate took quick action to advance the Washington My Health, My Data Act, and critically strengthened its enforcement provisions. This bill will reduce barriers to abortion and gender-affirming health care access and will protect private health care data that is not currently covered by HIPPA. We urge the legislature to send this strengthened bill to the Governor’s desk.”