DMA strengthens guidelines regarding data compiler responsibilities

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The Direct Marketing Association said yesterday that it has strengthened and clarified provisions within its Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice that relate to the collection and sharing of consumer information by data compiler organizations.

Developed over the past year and approved by the executive committee of the DMA's board of directors this month, the new guidelines apply to "data compilers" -- defined as "any company that assembles personally identifiable information about consumers (with whom the compiler has no direct relationship) for the purpose of facilitating the renting, selling, or exchanging of information to non-affiliated third-party organizations for marketing purposes."

All DMA members are expected to comply with DMA's self-regulatory guidelines as a condition of membership. Under the new guidelines, when entering into agreements with third-party organizations for the rental, sale or exchange of consumer information, a data compiler must:

·Establish written or electronic agreements that define the rights and responsibilities of the compiler and customer with respect to the use of marketing data.

·Require customers to state the purpose for which the data will be used.

·Include language in their agreements with other DMA members that requires compliance with applicable laws and DMA guidelines. Non-DMA member customers should be required to follow all applicable laws and encouraged to comply with DMA's guidelines.

·Require that marketing data be used only for marketing purposes. If the data are non-marketing data but are used for marketing purposes, they should be treated as marketing data for purposes of this new DMA guideline.

To ensure that customers are using data properly, DMA will now require its data compiler members to:

·Randomly monitor, through seeding of lists or other means, the use of their marketing databases to ensure that customers use data in accordance with their stated purpose.

·For sensitive marketing data, compilers should review materials to be used in promotions to help ensure that their customers' use of the data is both appropriate and in accordance with their stated purpose. Sensitive marketing data include data pertaining to children, older adults, healthcare or treatment, account numbers, or financial transactions.

·If a database compiler is or becomes aware that a customer is using consumer data in a way that violates the law and/or the DMA's ethics guidelines, it should contact the customer and require compliance for any continued data usage, or refuse to sell the data and/or refer the matter to the DMA and/or a law enforcement agency.

The new guidance also lays out clear requirements for data compilers in responding to consumer inquiries, including:

·Upon a consumer's request, and within a reasonable time, suppressing that consumer's information from the compiler's and/or applicable customer's prospecting database.

·Not prohibiting an end-user marketer from divulging the database compiler as the source of the marketer's information.

·At a minimum, explaining to consumers, upon their request for source information, the nature and types of sources they use to compile marketing databases.

More information on the new guidelines is available at

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