Marketers oppose state regulation for e-commerce at OECD meeting

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PARIS-- Global business leaders have reiterated their opposition to state-imposed regulations on Internet direct marketing, claiming they would have a negative impact on multinational marketers, leading retailersand global advertising agencies.

Speaking at an international conference on e-commerce in Paris, organized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, business leaders urged government to give voluntary, self-regulatory initiatives on the use of personal data more time to develop.

Business leaders particularly welcomed the creation of "opt-out" schemes, similar to those used by direct marketers, for consumers opposed to online junk mail, or "spam" -- mass, unsolicited e-mail campaigns.

But government officials and representatives of consumer organizations called for speedier, more effective measures to guarantee that consumers enjoy as much protection during e-commerce transactions as during traditional store shopping.

"It is time for business to do something," said Marie Georges, a senior official with the French government's top privacy watchdog, CNIL, and a participant in European Union deliberations on online privacy. "The time has come to put some form to the never-ending stream of promises for a selfregulatory agenda, and this is nowhere more true than in the case of mass e-mailings of commercial material."

Ms. Georges also told the forum that "self-regulation seems indispensablebut has proven to be completely insufficient to date," adding that the EU will likely be forced to begin deliberations in the coming year on the "spam" question.

The OECD meeting in Paris Oct. 11-13 was attended by more than 300 participants from business, consumer organizations, governments and organizedlabor.

Copyright October 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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