The Direct Marketing Association yesterday began offering a European Union data export compliance program free to its members.
The European Union Safe Harbor Enforcement Program, which costs U.S. firms $7,000 a year, ensures online and offline data-privacy protection for European consumers, according to the DMA.
The DMA said it is offering the program to its members to bolster consumer trust while aiding U.S. firms in efforts to grow in EU markets.
Companies that choose to participate will earn the right to display the DMA Safe Harbor Mark. Participation also ensures compliance with privacy and data rules for all EU member nations.
The DMA also set up a committee to deal with enforcement of the program. The committee, made up of three consumers, one member of the nonprofit community and five direct marketers, will address privacy concerns.
Companies that are found to be noncompliant with the privacy guidelines may be expelled from the program. Cases not resolved by the committee may be referred to the appropriate U.S. federal agency.
The DMA also arranged for a telephone hotline and e-mail address to receive consumer complaints.
Under the 1998 EU Data Protection Directive, companies in EU member states are banned from transferring personal data to non-EU member countries unless there are assurances of adequate privacy protection. The European Commission, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Commerce and industry representatives, including the DMA, has developed seven safe harbor principles to define adequate privacy protection.