From customer databases to e-mail, privacy rules keep changing. Direct marketers must stay on guard every step of the way.
emember the good old days when privacy in marketing meant taking consumers off mailing lists? What a quaint memory from the not-so-distant past!
Over the last decade, managing the privacy issue has become excruciatingly complex. Hundreds of discrete subject areas have commanded the attention of data managers and made advising on privacy both a lucrative career—and a major career hazard.
Every day, the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Department of Ethics and Consumer Affairs receives calls from marketers worried they are going to make a mistake in their use of information. One reason for these calls is that there are so many potential mistakes to be made.
For starters, marketers must deal not only with the challenge of compliance with hundreds of international, federal and state laws, but also with the guidelines of major associations such as the DMA; the expectations of customers and privacy advocates; and recent interpretations of government representatives. Having to grapple with just one of these could paralyze any self-respecting marketer.
It seems that just as marketers get a handle on current legislation, technologies and consumer sentiment, developments in these areas change the playing field. In the last five years, large substantial bodies of law have been created in the privacy arena to protect specific kinds of sensitive information in the areas of children, finance and health.
Technology further complicates the privacy issue. Once you understand and deal with the fine points accompanying the consumer-friendly use of Internet “cookies,” you find that new and complex technologies, like spyware and e-mail authentication solutions, have emerged.
What you knew yesterday about marketing to children, students or teens might be obsolete today because of government decisions or actions.