DMA “Disappointed” With Draft Privacy Bill

The Direct Marketing Association today expressed disappointment with the scope and restrictive nature of the draft privacy legislation proposed by Representatives Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL).

The much-anticpated draft bill would require web publishers and ad networks to publicly disclose when they collect data on internet users — but would not require that users actively opt in to have data about them collected for advertising and commerce purposes.

The DMA said the draft bill has potentially sweeping impacts for direct marketers in 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,” the DMA said in a press release. “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.”

The DMA acknowledged that a statement released with the legislation discussed the importance of online advertising and vowed to not disrupt the current business model. However, the DMA disagreed, saying it “goes far beyond the long-recognized standard of opt-out for third-party sharing of data, instead requiring affirmative prior consent.” This, the DMA said, “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.”

Finally, Linda Woolley, DMA’s executive vice president of government affairs, explained that the DMA and other trade associations are currently in the process of implementing a significant new self-regulatory program that applies consumer-friendly standards to online behavioral advertising across the internet.

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