When it comes to purchases and business transactions, American consumers enjoy a level of convenience unknown anywhere else in the world.  Most Americans prefer to get marketing offers that already match up with their interests or needs. These conveniences are made possible by the responsible exchange of data.  That flow information is critical to the ongoing strength of the American economy in general, and the direct marketing community in particular.

Current Issues

  • Comprehensive Privacy Legislation
    In May 2010, Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA), chairman of the House on Communications, Technology and the Internet (CTI) Subcommittee, and Ranking Member Cliff Stearns (R-FL) circulated a “discussion draft” of privacy legislation covering both online and offline data collection and use.  Read DMA’s related Action Alert to learn more.
  • P2P Protection
    In February 2010, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD) introduced the “P2P Cyber Protection and Informed User Act” (S.3027), which would prevent the inadvertent disclosure of information on a computer through peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing.  Similar legislation (H.R.  1319) passed the House by voice vote in December of 2009.  Read DMA’s related press release to learn more.
  • Data Security and Breach Notification
    In December 2009, the House passed the “Data Accountability and Trust Act” (H.R. 2221), which would create a national standard for consumer notification in the event of a data breach involving sensitive personally-identifiable information (PII) where a significant risk of harm exists. The bill also includes provisions requiring entities that use sensitive PII to develop and implement safeguards to protect that data, as well as requirements for data brokers to provide individuals with access and correction to certain “personal electronic records.”  The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to favorably report two similar data security bills (S. 1490 and S. 139) to the full Senate in November 2009.

DMA Positions

  • In general, DMA favors the greatest potential consumer choice: direct marketers must recognize and respect consumers’ wishes and rights if they expect to create trust and win-win relationships.  As such, we believe that “opt-out” standards are usually most beneficial to the interests of both consumers and marketers.  An “opt-in” regime would stifle innovation and jobs created through Internet commerce.
  • DMA does not support legislation that establishes an overall privacy regime.  Instead, we support legislation that is targeted at specific problems because one solution does not fit all circumstances.
  • In any legislation that would mandate new standards for how consumer information is used, DMA supports a clear distinction between sensitive information that can be used to commit fraud and identity theft, and information about consumer preferences (marketing data).  While DMA favors strong protections for sensitive information, we are working hard to maintain the rights for the responsible exchange of marketing information among legitimate organizations.
  • DMA generally supports a national standard for data protection and appropriate risk-based triggers for notification in the event of a breach.
  • DMA strongly supports legislation that strengthens penalties and provides resources to identify and prosecute those who obtain consumer information illegally and/or use that information for fraudulent or deceptive purposes.


  • Historically DMA has been in the forefront of sound industry self-regulatory practices, which ensure the privacy of individuals, while allowing business to go out and find new customers, as well as maintain existing customer relationships.
  • DMA’s industry guidelines for protecting consumer privacy center on respecting consumer rights through mandatory provisions on transparency and choice. Our Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice also set strict standards for protecting the privacy of especially sensitive information, such as information related to children.
  • DMA’s member-driven ethics committee investigates complaints about improper marketing activities. Where necessary, non-compliant companies have been denied DMA membership and when appropriate, referred to federal and state law enforcement agencies.
  • DMA’s “Commitment to Consumer Choice” program and corresponding DMAChoice.org website demonstrate how strongly DMA members value and honor the preferences and choices of consumers.

For questions or comments regarding DMA’s advocacy related to privacy and data security, please contact DMA’s Government Affairs Team.

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