New York is compromising privacy

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The New York Attorney General's investigation on privacy issues reported by DMNews October 1 may be a proper investigation. New York State, however, has a privacy legal issue of its own that it needs to fix.

The New York Attorney General's office handles registrations of direct marketing agencies and nonprofits. Its registration form requires Social Security numbers.

The State of New York justifies its demand for SSNs under section 5 of its tax laws, which commands any New York licensing office to collect SSNs. That appears to be an attempt to circumvent or even evade IRC section 405(c)(2)(C). New York licensing authorities are not part of the tax department that "administers" the state's tax laws.

New York has been informed that its demand for SSNs in the licensing process conflicts with federal law.

I share the DMA's observations that direct marketers have a particular interest in law enforcement against bad actors. There is another element, though, and that is where law enforcement officials and state governments themselves actually violate the law against direct marketers. Direct marketers would do well to ensure that state officials themselves are following the law. We do not have an official enforcement unit for those purposes, so we may need to rely on publicizing when those unlawful activities occur.

Mark Fitzgibbons

President of Corporate and Legal Affairs,

American Target Advertising Inc.

Manassas, VA

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