Greco: DMA Expected Backlash, Passed on Utah Brief

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The Direct Marketing Association did not join an effort to stop the Utah Child Protection Registry Act for several reasons, including that participation would have prompted a backlash hurting the association's public image.


John A. Greco Jr., president/CEO of the DMA, made these comments at yesterday's Direct Marketing Club of New York luncheon.


"I've heard some people were puzzled or even disappointed that the DMA did not join the amicus brief filed a few weeks ago by … organizations to raise concerns over the Utah legislation," he said. "We knew if we did participate, it would get spun as 'DMA Attacks Efforts to Protect Children.' You know that is what the headline would be."


Such a perception "would be very hard for our members," he said.


Greco was referring to a coalition of six groups that filed an application of amici curiae Jan. 25 against the Utah Child Protection Registry Act, saying the law is flawed and could weaken the federal CAN-SPAM Act. The Utah law aims to protect minors from receiving e-mails promoting products or services that cannot be sold lawfully to them or containing material "harmful to minors." It would create a do-not-e-mail registry and require e-mail marketers to "scrub" their lists against it for a fee.


The organizations are Email Sender and Provider Coalition, American Advertising Federation, American Association of Advertising Agencies, Association of National Advertisers Inc., Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy & Technology.


Greco said that the DMA agrees with the Federal Trade Commission, which has come out several times against creating registries "that will absolutely become [a] target for hackers" and possibly put children into harm's way. The DMA also is concerned that the registry is a state list as opposed to a national one, he said.


"Allowing 50 states to come up with 50 different solutions would make compliance either very difficult for national marketers or even impossible," Greco said, adding that the DMA is lobbying for a national law to prevent these registries.


Greco also discussed other issues in his speech, such as do-not-mail and stop-junk-mail efforts, postal reform, environmental issues, remote sales tax and data privacy and security.


As for data security, Greco said the DMA is working to educate people about the different types of data and how "marketing data is different from personal identity data." In addition, "we are emphasizing that data security is everyone's problem. It is not uniquely a direct marketing problem … data security breaches involve personal records about as often as they do customer information."


But to maintain access to vital customer data, "direct marketers must be even more responsible than ever in the way that we handle that data," he said. "We must demonstrate continually that we respect consumer choice and preference and that we scrupulously protect their privacy."


Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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