Promises, Promises

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The Direct Marketing Association keeps touting its Privacy Promise as a working example of self-regulation. Too bad the organization continues to withhold information regarding which members haven't complied with those guidelines.

At last month's fall show in Toronto, the DMA issued two ambiguous and contradictory press releases regarding the action its board took against a reportedly lone holdout. DMA president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen told DM News the details would be released Nov. 10. Well, Nov. 10 rolled around, no announcement was made and the date suddenly became Nov. 20, a spokesman said. … Um, that's a Saturday. What kind of announcement is the DMA going to make on a Saturday?

The bigger question is: What is the DMA waiting for?

It's ironic that Wientzen mentioned the promise at last week's Privacy & American Business conference as one way it's addressing consumer concerns. But, he also said, "The DMA and industry must accelerate the work we're doing in the privacy area." Wouldn't the best way to demonstrate this be to actually do what you say you're going to do?

Court Actions

It seems like this week's issue should be renamed Privacy News as we report on everything from the Supreme Court hearing a case concerning the Driver's Privacy Protection Act to our privacy columnist Robert Gellman getting to the root of why Congress took up the drivers' license issue in the first place.

Exhibiting part of the mentality out there is Solicitor General Seth Waxman's argument to the court: Releasing license information is "the equivalent in terms of personal safety to being required to walk around all day with a sign" disclosing one's name and address. The case could go either way, though five justices have led the way in several recent rulings to say the federal government shouldn't be meddling in state activities.

Stay tuned. A ruling isn't expected from the court until late spring.

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