DMA: ‘Do Not Track Online Act’ Is Unnecessary
Washington, DC, May 9, 2011 — The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) today expressed disappointment with the “Do Not Track Online Act of 2011” introduced by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).
The DMA believes that the Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising, launched by the DMA and four other leading trade associations last year, already provides exactly the type of “simple, straightforward way for people to stop companies from tracking their movements online” that Senator Rockefeller called for upon releasing his bill today. Building on the DMA’s forty-year history of strong and effective self-regulation, the Online Behavioral Advertising program gives consumers an easy-to-use, transparent way to opt out of having data collected and used for online behavioral advertising by clicking on an Advertising Option Icon in the corner of ads across the Internet. The Icon already appears on billions of ads, and consumers can click on it to opt-out, or they can go directly to www.AboutAds.info/choices to exercise their choices.
The Rockefeller bill fails to recognize this strong and effective self-regulatory program, instead calling for a massive government program to provide protections that industry already offers to consumers. “The DMA and its thousands of member companies have spent countless hours and considerable resources developing a system to provide real and meaningful choice to consumers about the way their information is collected and used across the Internet,” said DMA CEO Lawrence Kimmel. “I can say with certainty that business is safeguarding consumers’ privacy without any cost to taxpayers while protecting the economic interests of all Americans.”
DMA’s Executive Vice President of Washington Operations Linda Woolley noted that the bill also interferes with the fundamental relationship between businesses and their customers. “The bill would prohibit a company from doing something as simple as keeping track of the customers who interact with it online, making it impossible to provide the kind of customized user experience that consumers have come to expect.”
The DMA remains concerned that legislative proposals regarding the Internet run the risk of undercutting the leading area of American dominance and job growth. In 2010 alone, companies spent over $25.4 billion on digital advertising, which supported over 3.1 million jobs and generated $503.6 billion in sales. The collection and use of data for marketing and advertising purposes, which fuels the Internet economy, benefits both businesses and consumers, and is, in fact, the cornerstone of what makes direct marketing “direct.” “Information has been a driver of competition in our economy for over 100 years,” Woolley said,” and DMA is wary of any legislation that upsets the information economy without a showing of actual harm to consumers.”
Further, the DMA is concerned that this latest legislative proposal would impose untold regulatory compliance costs on businesses without a showing that there is a market failure or a need to regulate, and without addressing the actual harms of fraud and identity theft that face thousands of businesses and consumers every year. The DMA supports federal data security legislation that would create a national breach notification standard and has worked with members in both the House and Senate over the course of the past several years to refine data security proposals such that they succeed in their aim of addressing identity theft without adversely affecting the flow of information vital to our economy.
DMA looks forward to continued conversation with Senator Rockefeller and his staff to ensure that any legislation addresses actual consumer harm effectively while safeguarding the growth of the Internet and the technological innovation that drives the US economy.