DMA DEVISING CODE TO PROTECT PRIVACY FOR CONSUMERS: SELF-REGULATION SEEKS TO PRE-EMPT FTC, CONGRESS

By Published on .

Facing one of its more controversial issues head-on, the Direct Marketing Association is crafting a set of mandatory consumer privacy standards for its 3,600 members.

The rules, effective as of July 1999, will ensure that marketers won't share information about their customers against their wishes.

By setting up an industry self-regulatory code, DMA is hoping to pre-empt a clampdown by the Federal Trade Commission or Congress.

"It will reduce the risk [of regulation or legislation] very considerably," said H. Robert Wientzen, CEO of the association. He announced the move at the group's 80th annual conference last week.

DIRECT TAKES DRUBBING

Direct marketers have taken a beating from some consumer advocates because of companies sharing consumer information without notifying those affected, Mr. Wientzen said. The growing popularity of the Internet has exacerbated public concern about privacy issues.

Mr. Wientzen said the FTC supports the idea of self-regulation.

"I have had casual conversations that suggest strong support for what we are doing," Mr. Wientzen said.

VIOLATORS EXPELLED

DMA committees are hammering out specific rules. Methods of enforcement are still under discussion, but members who violate the policy would be expelled from the trade group.

Under the plan's outline, marketers must notify consumers if they share database information with other marketers. Consumers must be given the choice to opt out of such an arrangement.

The rules also would ensure that marketers used the DMA Mail Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service when marketing to consumers. The services are

In this article:
Most Popular