Skip to main content
King County logo

News



New law will protect virtual addiction recovery privacy

Summary

The King County Council on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation that makes it illegal in King County to hack into virtual addiction recovery and mental health meetings.

Story

The King County Council on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation that makes it illegal in King County to hack into virtual addiction recovery and mental health meetings.

The proposed ordinance, sponsored by King County Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn, aims to protect the privacy of individuals who are going through an addiction recovery or mental health program on a videoconference platform such as Zoom. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of such meetings have shifted to these platforms.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic over a year ago, we have seen substance use and mental health disorders skyrocket as people suffer under increased isolation and stress,” Dunn said. “This new layer of protection will make it easier for folks to receive help online by allowing them to freely engage in virtual support groups without fear for their personal privacy.”

The ordinance would create the offense of obtaining information or disrupting video teleconferences of recovery, mental health, and behavioral health support groups without authorization, and prescribe civil penalties.

Since the start of the pandemic, national data has shown a 13% increase in alcohol or controlled substance use, with 40% of people reporting depression, mental health, or substance use. The pandemic has also resulted in a shift to virtual meetings on videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom. With new proposed civil penalties, victims of virtual meeting hacks or disruptions will have due course to sue the perpetrator.

Contact the Council
Main phone:
206-477-1000
TTY/TDD:
206-296-1024
Email:
council@kingcounty.gov