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Wientzen Discusses Top Issues Facing DMers

WASHINGTON — Privacy and data security issues are getting a great deal of attention from government legislators and regulators in this session.

Speaking yesterday at the opening session of the DMA/Internet Alliance 2001 Government Affairs Conference, H. Robert Wientzen, president/CEO of the Direct Marketing Association, touched on several major political issues affecting direct marketers today, including privacy, data security, Internet taxes and postal reform.

“Year to date, there have been 465 privacy-related bills introduced in 46 states,” he said.

The DMA, the Internet Alliance and the Association for Interactive Media will continue to work with “policymakers to address consumers' concerns and also to make tools and services available to help our members turn those concerns into opportunities to communicate our distinct commitment to the highest ethical standards,” he said.

On the issue of taxation of remote sales, Wientzen said, “The DMA's long-standing position has essentially been no nexus, no taxes. However, sooner or later, it's politically likely that we will have to deal with this issue differently. We will probably end up having to collect some kind of taxes and remit sales taxes on all remote sales.

“Of course, we'd prefer no remote sales tax collection, but wrangling taxes for 50 states is a lot more appealing — and frankly a lot more practical and affordable — than doing so for 7,600 towns, municipalities and even mosquito districts,” he said.

As for postal reform, Wientzen first spoke of the agency's financial difficulties and the possibility that the USPS may try to raise rates twice by this summer.

Then he asked the audience: “If your business was facing a hard time, do you think your company's response would be to raise prices for your customers? I rather doubt it.”

Instead of raising rates, he said, “which would drive customers away and further escalate the postal service's financial woes, the DMA recommends that the postal service make further cost cuts, like many of you are doing, and leverage the postal service's present borrowing authority.”

Wientzen said that instead of “short-term fixes,” the USPS needs a major change “in the form of comprehensive legislative reform of the 31-year-old laws that have governed the postal service and have them stuck in the economic, communication and delivery environment of the 1970s.”

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