FTC questions marketer profile data

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At Federal Trade Commission Internet privacy hearings on Tuesday, a Web demonstration showing the availability of mailing lists of asthma sufferers led FTC Commissioner Christine Varney to question the availability of the profile information that marketers gather. The issue was highlighted when Information Resource Service Co. Chairman Jack Reed mistakenly said his company offers businesses personal information drawn by MetroMail from consumer marketing data. The Direct Marketing Association said its ethical policies bar companies from making data gathered through marketing available for other purposes. MetroMail said it provides no such data.

Separately, the DMA, representing online marketers at the FTC privacy and cyberspace hearings this week, said it's striving aggressively to educate online marketers while enabling consumers to safeguard their privacy."Online commerce will only thrive with consumer confidence and consumer acceptance," said W. Robert Wientzen, president-CEO, outlining several steps that the organization has taken in the past year toward self-regulation. Since last year's FTC privacy hearings, the DMA formally adopted self-regulatory principles for online marketing; held focus groups to better understand consumers' views about privacy and online marketing; created a privacy guide on its Web site for Web developers; and developed a service that helps consumers block unsolicited marketing e-mail.

Copyright June 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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