A Busy Year for Congress

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The 106th session of Congress is expected to address quite a few DM issues even though our country's lawmakers are mired in bipartisan fighting over President Clinton's impeachment trial.

Near the top of that list is a Senate investigation into sweepstakes and the possibility of new federal laws to regulate the wording in sweepstakes mailings (see story, page 3). And look for bills from the last session to be introduced again, including those from Sen. Carl Levin and Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Yes, this is getting serious folks. For every sweepstakes entry I get in the mail, it seems like I also read a news story about a sweepstakes marketer that is settling a suit or paying a fine -- and it's not just elderly consumers who are falling victim to their tactics.

Privacy is another key item that will be discussed, dissected and disseminated in Washington. Although the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act was passed last fall, the debate isn't about to end there. The Federal Trade Commission is working on another surf day this month in which it will check Web sites to make sure they are in compliance with privacy standards. If companies get failing grades like last time, you can bet it won't be a pleasant year for marketers.

And just think, we're still nearly half a year away from the Direct Marketing Association's Privacy Promise deadline -- though the DMA has asked members to demonstrate immediately that self-regulation is being practiced across the industry.

Perhaps DMers should hope that House and Senate leaders get too distracted with the Clinton mess to do anything else.

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