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DMA Responds to White House ‘Big Data’ Report


Post Date: May 1, 2014
By: Susan Taplinger

DMA Praises White House for Highlighting “Five Fundamentals for the Future”and
Encourages Future Discussion Focusing on Benefits of Responsible Data Use

Washington, DC, May 1, 2014 — The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) today responded to the findings of a new report released by the White House entitled, “Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values.”

“DMA is pleased to hear the White House recognize the value that data has for consumers and the nation’s economy,” said Peggy Hudson, DMA’s senior vice president of government affairs. “DMA and its members are leaders in ensuring that real benefits are derived from big data, and we will continue to advance America’s data-driven marketing economy.”

Throughout the 90-day review and in today’s report, DMA has been pleased to see the White House highlight three of DMA’s own Five Fundamentals for the Future – important policy objectives that will protect both consumers and our data-driven economy: reforming the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA); passing a national data breach notification standard; and reducing barriers to trans-border data flows.

DMA strongly praised the White House for affirming the need to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). “ECPA reform would respond directly to the concerns that Americans have about their digital rights being protected from government overreach,” Hudson continued. “We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to protect consumers’ privacy by updating ECPA to close a loophole that currently enables law enforcement to access electronic communications without a warrant.”

For nearly a decade, DMA has supported the passage of a uniform national standard for breach notification and will continue to work with the Administration and Congress to pass such a federal standard. Currently, a patchwork of more than 47 state laws and territories can create both business and consumer confusion. “It just makes sense that breach notification obligations be uniform regardless of the state in which a consumer lives,” Hudson said.

In today’s report, the White House also reaffirmed its commitment to interoperable global privacy frameworks – another key DMA priority. “The flow of data across borders contributes to an efficient global economy,” Hudson noted. “A recent study, commissioned by DMA’s Data-Driven Marketing Institute and conducted independently by professors at Harvard Business School and Columbia University found that data-driven marketing added $156 billion in revenue to the U.S. economy and fueled more than 675,000 jobs in 2012 alone. These vital data flows should be allowed to continue – and to flourish.” Currently, both industry self-regulatory and government safe harbor frameworks – including DMA’s Safe Harbor Program – play an important role in facilitating the responsible use of data across jurisdictions.

The White House report called for the Administration to advance the “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights,” a legislative proposal first introduced by the Administration in February 2012 at a West Wing ceremony recognizing DMA and others that have led the Digital Advertising Alliance and its Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising. The report specifically examined the practices of the online advertising industry and the data services industry, noting that each have significant histories using large datasets within long-established regulatory frameworks.

“The review was an excellent opportunity to examine the existing framework of laws and other protections that already govern how businesses use consumer data,” Hudson said. “With the examination complete, it is clear that the existing self-regulatory protections and sectoral laws – like the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) – that have protected consumers for decades, continue to ensure that speculative harms do not become realities in the age of big data. One thing is very clear: there is no harm to consumers when data is used responsibly in the commercial sector.”

“DMA continues to believe that self-regulation is the appropriate approach to address complex, dynamic data policy issues,” said Hudson. DMA and its members work every day to ensure that self-regulation fosters market innovation while protecting and providing great value to consumers. For more than forty years, DMA has promulgated and enforced its Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice, which guide marketers in the responsible collection and use of data for marketing purposes. Unlike legislation, which is static and runs the risk of codifying practices that may become out-of-date even before a bill turns into law, industry self-regulation is nimble by its very nature and thus better suited to provide protections in cutting-edge, fast-evolving areas like big data analytics.

“Marketers have engaged in the responsible collection and use of data for marketing purposes for more than 100 years,” Hudson continued. “The recent advent of ‘big data’ has enhanced, but not changed, the basic role that marketing plays in the U.S. economy. In fact, the remarkable growth of the Data-Driven Marketing Economy is due in part to the robust framework of sectoral laws and self-regulatory protections that already apply to the use of big data for marketing purposes.”

As society continues to explore and debate the implications of “big data,” DMA encourages the Administration to focus future policy discussions about commercial data practices on combatting discernible, concrete harms – not restricting the responsible use of data that fuels our economy and our data-driven way of life.

About Direct Marketing Association (DMA)

The Direct Marketing Association (www.thedma.org) is the world’s largest trade association dedicated to advancing and protecting responsible data-driven marketing. Founded in 1917, DMA represents thousands of companies and nonprofit organizations that use and support data-driven marketing practices and techniques. DMA provides the Voice to shape policy and public opinion, the Connections to grow members’ businesses and the Tools to ensure full compliance with ethical and best practices as well as professional development.

In 2012, the Data-Driven Marketing Economy (DDME) added $156 billion in revenue to the U.S. economy and fueled more than 675,000 jobs. The real value of data is in its exchange across the DDME: 70 percent of the value of the DDME – $110 billion in revenue and 478,000 jobs – depends on the ability of firms to exchange data across the DDME.

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