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DMA Expresses Disappointment With New ‘Data Act’

February 14, 2014
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New York, NY, February 13, 2014—The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) expressed disappointment today following the introduction of the "The Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014" (DATA Act), a bill that would stymie the responsible use of data across the entire data-driven marketing economy, stifle innovation, and ultimately hurt consumers.

Introduced by Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), the DATA Act would require that "data brokers" provide consumers with ability to access and correct marketing information, and to opt-out of having that information used for marketing purposes.  A data broker is defined in the bill as any company that "collects, assembles, or maintains personal information concerning an individual who is not a customer or an employee of that entity in order to sell the information or provide third party access to the information."

"Time and again, Congress has found that access and correction to consumer data are necessary only when the information is used for eligibility purposes, and marketing is not an eligibility purpose," said Peggy Hudson, DMA's senior vice president of government affairs. "Imposing an access and correction regime on marketing data is not necessary to protect consumer privacy and doing so would make it harder for companies to keep data secure at a time when consumers are more concerned about identity theft than ever before," she continued.

The introduction of the DATA Act is the latest chapter in Senator Rockefeller's ongoing focus on "data brokers," which began in October 2012 with the launch of a Senate Commerce Committee investigation into nine companies. The investigation was expanded to include 12 additional companies in September 2013. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on data brokers in November 2013, undertaken at the request of Senator Rockefeller. The Senate Commerce Committee released the findings of its investigation in December 2013, on the eve of a hearing by the full Committee to examine the practices of data brokers. Over the course of the Senate Commerce investigation, the companies targeted have submitted tens of thousands of pages explaining their business models and the incredible value that responsible data use provides to consumers. The Senate Commerce Committee and the GAO both failed to find any wrongdoing on the part of these businesses.


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