Wientzen: Data Usage and Security Processes Should Be Airtight

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ROSEMONT, IL -- Companies have to make sure their data usage and security policies are exemplary, the head of the Direct Marketing Association told a gathering of database marketers this week.


Speaking Monday at the 27th National Center for Database Marketing Conference and Exhibition, H. Robert Wientzen, DMA president/CEO, said the need for security has increased because of the convergence or integration of marketing media.


"We're already seeing a convergence of television and the Web. Similarly, we are seeing a convergence of the Web and telephones," Wientzen said.


As these and other technological marriages occur "and the data pipes expand, we'll see addressable, targeted, database-driven marketing soar to new heights," he said.


While this convergence will be exciting to watch over the next few years -- specifically because it will have the potential to generate even more powerful data -- it will be laden with policy questions, Wientzen said.


"Be careful. Be watchful. And make certain your company's data usage and security processes are exemplary. Not just good -- exemplary," he said.


While the industry may not be facing the immediate threat of a far-reaching privacy bill, "it will take just one Exxon Valdez kind of story relating to a privacy or data security breach and trigger laws that will strangle the very life out of database-driven direct marketing," Wientzen said, referring to an oil tanker that wrought vast environmental damage to Alaska waters in 1989.


He also said that he recently met with the Bush administration on the subject of privacy and data security and they said, "We are only a '60 Minutes' story away from real trouble for your industry."


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