*Telemarketing Conference Opens With Privacy Warning

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ORLANDO, FL -- In the wake of recent headlines about consumer privacy and data security concerns, attendees of the DMA Telemarketing Conference here were warned yesterday that self regulation must increase for consumer confidence to be preserved.

Teleservices remains the leading direct marketing medium, but "to put it nicely, it is operating in an environment that is not always hospitable," DMA president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen told the 327 attendees at the conference's opening session.

DMA legislative liaisons have been dealing with bills in 44 states and have been participating in Federal Trade Commission workshops on consumer protection. Internally, the association's Privacy Promise program will begin July 1. The program requires members to give notice about how they use data, offer opt-out options to consumers, use mail-preference service and telephone-preference service lists and respect opt-out requests. A list of members who refused to comply with the program will eventually be made public.

Wientzen also called the irresponsible use of predictive dialers a threat to the industry. Predictive dialer misuse combined with negative publicity and other consumer concerns are factors that have contributed to the addition of more than 1 million names to the DMA's Telephone Preference Service list in the past six months.

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