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DMA Fears Backlash From NSA Surveillance

19 Jun, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – The revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) has engaged in surveying U.S. citizens’ communications has the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) concerned that the backlash could lead to new online privacy laws restrictive to marketers. 

Linda Woolley, president and CEO of the DMA, told MediaPost last week one of her worries is new restrictions from lawmakers and says she hopes people don't confuse how the ad industry draws on data with spying by the government. “If they are conflated, things could go very badly for marketers,” Woolley said.

In her blog last week, Woolly added, “The current regulatory environment is a test of our collective ability to bridge the language gap and improve understanding of the value of data-driven marketing. We cannot and let these mischaracterizations about data-driven marketing stand.”

Another recent DMA blog post warns that perceptions surrounding the government's surveillance and monitoring programs could result in new restrictions for marketers. “Unless we correct these mischaracterizations about what data-driven marketers do and how we do it, we will get caught up in the Washington backlash against governmental intrusion,” wrote Rachel Thomas, DMA’s vice president of government affairs.

Thomas wrote that new restrictions on marketers wouldn't affect whether the government can spy on people.

Wendy Davis, a writer with MediaPost, said Thomas is right “in that there's probably no way to stop the government from collecting data without revising the Patriot Act. At the same time, enacting restrictions on data retention by private companies could make it a lot harder for the government to get hold of information. After all, if Web companies promptly deleted messages and other material from their servers, then the data wouldn't be readily available to the NSA or any other authority.”

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