Wientzen Urges Privacy Compliance

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SAN FRANCISCO -- DMA chairman/CEO H. Robert Wientzen, at the fall show here last week, asked direct marketers to immediately comply with association's privacy promise, though the deadline isn't until July.

"We'd like to be able to tell [U.S. Commerce Department] Secretary [William] Daley, [Federal Trade Commission] chairman [Robert] Pitofsky and Federal Trade Commissioner Mozelle Thompson by the end of this year that a majority of DMA members already are in compliance. In my 30-plus years in this business, industry has never faced a policy issue as threatening as this," Wientzen told a packed room of more than 3,000 marketers from around the world.

Though he offered little new information in his kickoff speech, Wientzen continued to stress the importance of the privacy promise. Under the DMA's privacy guidelines, members must:

* Provide notice to consumers of their information collection and use practices.

* Offer consumers a chance to opt out of name rental and exchange and maintain inhouse suppression systems.

* Run lists against the DMA's Mail Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service files.

Marketers who don't comply with the guidelines face losing membership in the DMA.

Underscoring the issue's urgency, Wientzen included videotaped statements from Daley and Pitofsky.

"We would rather see [regulation] by industry than by the government," Daley said, "but if the private sector does not step forward with some sort of self-regulatory system, it is our strong feeling in this administration that you can be assured that consumer backlash will require government to step in."

"I think the DMA's program of … giving people notice of privacy policies and opportunity to opt out is the right way to go," Pitofsky said. "But I do feel that if self-regulation doesn't work, it doesn't matter what we recommend or [don't] recommend. Congress is going to go ahead and regulate in this area because people want their privacy protected."

Wientzen also unveiled The DMA Privacy Promise Copywriters' Challenge. The object of the competition is to craft a Web-site privacy disclosure notice that "increases both consumer confidence and marketing success." Deadline for entries is Jan. 22. Winners will be honored at the DMA's 3rd Annual conference and exhibition, which will be Feb. 28-March 2 in Los Angeles.

Also in his speech, Wientzen announced the Member Benefits & Discounts Program, in which DMA members can get life, health, dental and business owners' insurance. The program also offers discounts on business services like bill collection, broadcast faxing, overnight shipping, freight shipping, and tax and legal services.

He also announced three new DMA chapters: the Southern Ohio chapter, Cincinnati; the California South Coast chapter, Irvine, CA; and the Northern California chapter, San Francisco.

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