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Marketers need a clear position as Washington and the states fight it out to determine who writes new rules to govern access to data in state records, such as driver's license information. As it stands now, marketers look to be the first ones left out.

However the fight is resolved, and whether it is Washington or the states that set the rules for state-collected data, policymakers are likely to try to limit access to these public records. News organizations, out of principle, want unfettered access to public documents and will fight to maintain it. But commercial data users are more vulnerable, and already are being targeted for exclusion-because they use the data for profit.

Marketers, unlike some states, have already come a long way in dealing with the privacy issues that arise from the data they collect from customers. Marketers should argue that the states should embrace the privacy policies increasingly widespread in business.

Chief among these are that state agencies should disclose their data policies at the time they collect information, and explain what is made available or sold and for what allowable uses. More important, the states, as most of the private sector now does, should offer an "opt-out" option for those who don't want their personal information sold.

There are many uses for this data, and the door should not be slammed shut on