Evans Warns of Economic Impact From Data Breaches

NEW YORK — Donald Evans, who served as secretary of commerce from 2001 to 2005, toed the party line in his keynote address yesterday that opened the DM Days New York Conference & Expo.

The former cabinet official touted the Bush administration's domestic priorities for its second term: permanent tax cuts, Social Security reform, energy independence and global trade. He also spent time on other issues, including corporate governance and privacy concerns over identity theft.

“If Americans lose confidence in their credit cards or the Internet, the impact on the economy will be devastating,” Evans said in a half-full session a few hundred yards away from long lines of direct marketers waiting to get their registration badges for the show.

Evans referred to the scandals surrounding ChoicePoint and CardSystems, highlighting that the FBI estimated 700,000 Americans yearly are victims of ID theft. About 641 million credit cards in the United States generate charges of $1.3 trillion — 13 percent of the nation's GDP.

To protect the privacy of credit card users, Congress has introduced 22 bills in the past year from Democrats and Republicans.

“It's a great concern of yours, and it's a great concern of Washington,” Evans said.

He also touched on marketing and its use by the current and past presidents. Targeted marketing drove 4 million more people to vote for President Bush in 2004. That total included 2 million more Hispanics, more women and more urban voters.

But Bush was not the first one to embrace marketing. Thomas Jefferson used newspapers not just to extol, but to attack. Abraham Lincoln used the Gettysburg Address to make a point. Franklin Delano Roosevelt introduced radio into the marketing mix. John F. Kennedy changed history with the use of television. And Bush took to the Internet.

Evans also evangelized the benefits of free trade. In 1975, 35 countries had free markets, he said. Thirty years later, the number is 135. In 1975, there were 400 million in free markets worldwide. Today there are 2 billion.

Evans cited New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's new book on globalization, “The World is Flat,” to emphasize the new phase of globalization and interconnectedness. Borders in the 20th century were connected by airport terminals, Evans said. Thanks to high-tech and the Internet, borders in the 21st century are connected by computer terminals.

Evans couldn't resist reminding the audience what the Bush administration hammers daily: “Freedom is winning.”

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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