DMA Responds to Release of Draft Privacy Bill

WASHINGTON, DC—May 5, 2010—The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) today expressed disappointment with the scope and broadly restrictive nature of the draft privacy legislation proposed by Representatives Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL).

Addressing both online and offline collection of data, the draft bill has potentially sweeping impacts for direct marketers working across every marketing channel, from direct mail and telemarketing to email, Internet, and mobile marketing. Requiring notice and consent from an individual prior to any collection, use, or disclosure of information for any purpose would threaten the most basic of direct marketing practices.

Further, while the bill would not require consent for data collected for “operational purposes,” it specifically excludes marketing, advertising, and sales activities from that operational definition, making it clear that lawmakers intend to focus on the marketing and advertising community.

While a statement released with the draft legislation acknowledged the importance of online advertising and stated that “this legislation will not disrupt this well established and successful business model,” the bill goes far beyond the long-recognized standard of opt-out for third-party sharing of data, instead requiring affirmative prior consent.

An opt-in consent requirement would be detrimental to the delivery of online advertising that increasingly supports the convenient access to content, services and applications over the Internet that consumers have come to expect at no cost to them. DMA believes that this would have a crippling effect on Internet commerce, would stifle innovation, limit access to small publishers who survive on ad revenue, and ultimately reduce the amount of competition and growth of new business models in the online space.

“DMA and other trade associations are in the process of implementing a significant new self-regulatory program that applies consumer-friendly standards to online behavioral advertising across the Internet, giving consumers meaningful notice and choices about the advertising they receive,” said Linda Woolley, DMA’s executive vice president, government affairs.

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