New Jersey Bill Would Make All Mailing Lists Opt-In

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A bill is being considered in the New Jersey State Assembly that would prohibit the rental of mailing lists without prior consumer consent, but both the bill's sponsor and the Direct Marketing Association are downplaying its significance to list managers and mailers.

The bill, identified as A1756, was introduced by assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen County) in February 1998 and approved by the Assembly of Consumer Affairs and Regulated Professions committee on Feb. 11 of this year. The bill is now on the floor of the Assembly for a second reading.

It is similar to a bill [Weinberg] introduced in the past, said Anne Darr, a state lobbyist for the DMA. "If it was popular it would already have become law."

Richard Barton, the DMA senior vice president for Congressional relations, also does not think the bill will move in its current form. He said the DMA has been following the status of the bill and working with big mailers and Ms. Weinberg to ensure its passage would not be damaging to direct marketing.

In its current form, the bill would prohibit any public or private entity from renting, selling or otherwise releasing the names, addresses or telephone numbers of individuals for use in commercial solicitation without prior written or electronic consent. It would not prohibit the sharing of lists within the same company. Violations of the statute would result in an initial fine of up to $500 and subsequent fines of up to $1,000.

"I do realize the repercussions [for direct marketers], but before the bill is posted I am sure we will work out some compromises and solutions," Weinberg said in a statement.

She said the bill was originally proposed to protect consumer privacy and the confidentiality of victims of stalking and domestic violence.

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