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Security, privacy bills will not pass in lame-duck session of Congress: DMA

SAN FRANCISCO – While a major data breach bill will most likely not be passed this lame-duck session of Congress, several bills may be introduced in the next session, with the Direct Marketing Association keeping a close watch on the situation.

This was a key takeway from a speech made Oct. 15 by Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs at the DMA, at a List Leaders luncheon here at the DMA•06 conference and exhibition. Mr. Cerasale also explained why these bills are important to the direct marketing community.

“One of the goals [of the DMA] is to let legislators know the difference between social security numbers and marketing information,” he told a packed room. “Our message is marketing data would be used for marketing purposes only.”

Mr. Cerasale said that the DMA is reminding members that if the government asks them for their marketing data, they should make sure the authorities follow the legal process, either with a subpoena or a national security letter.

As for a bill being introduced this session, Mr. Cerasale said that if the Democrats take Congress, “I expect to see legislation come up in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.”

He said if a bill is introduced, the DMA would want to make sure it does not focus on marketing data as opposed to social security numbers, which can have a great impact on identify theft. Also, the bill should have a no access and correction provision for the marketing data unlike the data in a credit report.

“We don’t want it for marketing data because it is very expensive without any real consumer benefit,” Mr. Cerasale said.

Mr. Cerasale also spoke about privacy legislation and said Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) is talking about introducing an overall privacy bill in the next session of Congress. He said the DMA wants to make sure the bill focuses on opt out versus opt in.

Finally, Mr. Cerasale said Congress lately is considering whether or not companies should destroy their data.

Mr. Cerasale said one Congressman introduced a bill recently that called for destroying data after a certain period of time. But shortly after, another bill was introduced related to a pedophile case that called for all Internet service providers to save their data for tracking predators.

“No decision has been made on this front yet,” Mr. Cerasale said. “But this will be discussed in Congress next year, and the DMA is watching this closely.”

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