When the issues that are important to data-driven marketing make it into the President’s State of the Union address, presented last Tuesday night, it means that our industry is essential, valuable and highly visible. That also means that there is a lot of legislative and regulatory attention on what we do.  Unfortunately, much of that scrutiny is done without a strong knowledge of responsible marketing practices.

As an industry, we must be more vigilent than ever. DMA is doing our part, and we need every member and every data-driven marketer to do yours.

President Barack Obama directed his comments on technology issues solely to patent reform, cybersecurity, and the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs.  It was good and bad for our industry.

The Good:  The President urged Congress to pass a patent reform bill that “allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly needless litigation.” Combating patent assertion entities, also known as patent trolls, has been a priority for President Obama since last summer, when he issued a serious of executive actions and legislative recommendations aimed at cracking down on patent trolls.

The patent troll issue had gained some momentum in Congress late in 2013, when the House overwhelmingly passed the Innovation Act, a patent litigation reform bill supported by the Administration. However, this momentum has slowed recently in the Senate, where Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is trying to build support for his companion patent reform legislation.

DMA supports national patent reform.

The Bad:  In terms of government surveillance, President Obama only briefly touched on the NSA programs in his speech. Mr. Obama made the case for needing to “aggressively pursue terrorist networks,” while also pledging to work with Congress on reforming the NSA surveillance programs. The President stressed the importance of this effort, because the work of the U.S. intelligence community “depends on public confidence, here and abroad, that the privacy of ordinary people is not being violated.” Mr. Obama likely did not go into greater detail on this issue because he discussed the reforms at length in his previous remarks specifically on the NSA programs.

In that previous address on changes to National Security Agency programs, President Obama also called for a “comprehensive review of big data and privacy,” to be led by long-time advisor John Podesta. The review will look at how “big data” affects the way we live and work, the relationship between government and its citizens, and how public and private sectors can spur innovation and maximize the opportunities and free flow of this information while minimizing the risks to privacy.   In a blog post this week, Podesta explained more about the review, its scope, and what to expect over the next 90 days.

“We are undergoing a revolution in the way that information about our purchases, our conversations, our social networks, our movements, and even our physical identities are collected, stored, analyzed and used,” Podesta wrote. “The immense volume, diversity and potential value of data will have profound implications for privacy, the economy, and public policy.”

Within 90 days, Podesta expects the group to deliver a report to the President that “anticipates future technological trends and frames the key questions that the collection, availability, and use of ‘big data’ raise.”

DMA looks to participate in these discussions.

Our industry is under attack and we need your help.   Legislators and regulators alike have already made countless public statements and, in some cases, introduced legislation on the need to adopt stricter laws prohibiting the free access and use of consumer data.  Such measures, if adopted, would have a severe and negative impact on your ability to collect, analyze and use consumer data to support data-driven marketing efforts.

A great way to participate is the DMA Direct Voice PAC.  The PAC’s only purpose is to help elect and build relationships with candidates that protect our industry. Policymakers take notice when the employees of member companies are invested in their trade association’s PAC, conveying the strength of the membership behind the issues.

PACs operate on a calendar year, and we are required by the Federal Election Commission to acquire a signed Prior Authorization form from you before we can ask for a contribution. This form simply allows us to ask you for a contribution; it does not obligate you to contribute.  For more information on DMA Direct Voice, please email Adam Nelson.

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