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Data Broker Bill Introduced, DMA Expresses Opposition

19 Feb, 2014 By: Doug McPherson

WASHINGTON – Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Ed Markey (D-MA) have introduced a bill that would require data brokers to share how they collect information and are accountable for it.

The Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) would also give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) civil penalty authority to enforce the law.

“Consumers deserve to know what information about their personal lives is being collected and sold to marketers by data brokers,” said Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

“The data broker industry has, for too long, operated in the shadows, compiling dossiers on millions of Americans. It is time to shine a light on this industry," added Markey.

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) expressed disappointment with the DATA Act and said it would stymie innovation and the responsible use of data across the entire data-driven marketing economy – and ultimately hurt consumers.

Linda A. Woolley, DMA’s CEO and president, said, “It is unfortunate that after receiving all of that evidence, and despite the fact that no harm has been discovered, Chairman Rockefeller continues to hamstring an industry that is the brightest beacon of American innovation – creating products and services that consumers love and demand – and the engine of the U.S. economic and employment growth – for no good reason.”

Peggy Hudson, DMA’s senior vice president of government affairs, said Congress has found that access and correction to consumer data are necessary only when the information is used for eligibility purposes, and marketing is not an eligibility purpose.

“Imposing an access and correction regime on marketing data is not necessary to protect consumer privacy and doing so would make it harder for companies to keep data secure at a time when consumers are more concerned about identity theft than ever before,” Hudson said. “Data is the new gold, and the responsible use of consumer data is the fuel that drives the U.S. economy.

A recent study, “The Value of Data: Consequences for Insight, Innovation & Efficiency in the U.S. Economy,” found that the data-driven marketing economy (DDME) added $156 billion in revenue to the U.S. economy and fueled more than 675,000 jobs in 2012 alone – and 70 percent of that value was dependent on the ability to exchange data across the economy. 

The study, commissioned by DMA’s Data-Driven Marketing Institute and conducted independently by Professors John Deighton of Harvard Business School and Peter Johnson of Columbia University, found that the DDME was “made in America” and that the exchange of data across the DDME is vitally important for small businesses to compete effectively with big players and for innovation across the marketplace.

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