DMA Needs to Focus on Online Concerns, Too

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I read your article on concerns over the Federal Trade Commission and press scrutiny of list owners and data use/practices ("FTC, Media Scrutiny Concern List Executives," Aug. 16). Having been involved in offline direct marketing at major agencies for 20 years and online/offline data and e-mail for about five years, it strikes me that the privacy issues raised by the "online world" have been largely unenforceable by the FTC and have provided a feeding frenzy of activity for the consumer press.

I think the anticipated crackdown on the traditional list and data providers is an unfortunate byproduct of regulators' inability to enforce (and even to define) questionable e-mail and online data usage practices by organizations that are largely small, anonymous and tech-savvy enough to operate in shadows. As with most situations like this, the guys who operate in the daylight will pay the price.

As CEO of a company that markets postal lists, e-mail lists and e-mails to our own file every day, it's frustrating that the DMA has taken such a hands-off approach to helping pave the way for legitimate organizations to market online by establishing a leadership role and managing consumer and regulatory expectations versus hiding from these critical issues, which is what they've generally done, in my opinion.

I'd love to see the DMA focus on online marketing versus trying to manage the next postal rate increase. If we could all get things moving in the right direction in the online world, postage rates would become relatively unimportant.

Anyway - one man's opinion.

Bill Gentry, CEO, Method2Media, Chicago


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