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In her keynote remarks at the Data & Marketing Association’s (DMA) “Dynamic State of Data 2017” policy conference, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen outlined her viewpoint on the FTC’s role in consumer protection in the data-driven economy, particularly when balanced against the use of data to drive technological innovation.

“There may be some tension between maximizing the benefits of big data and the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs),” said Ohlhausen, referring to the FTC guidelines regarding the collection and use of consumer data. “One principle is that consumers should be notified at the time of collection of the uses to which the collected data will be put. But part of the promise of big data is innovation, and that means that the new uses couldn’t have been anticipated at the time of collection. So how can a company give notice at the time of collection of a new, innovative and unanticipated use?”

Chairman Ohlhausen affirmed her belief that the FIPPs remain “flexible enough to accommodate the robust data industry,” but welcomed input from attendees on how to preserve consumer protections. She also praised the leadership of DMA, who for more than 60 years has developed and enforced self-regulatory guidelines for the data and marketing industry.

“A regulatory tool that is well-suited to fast-changing environments is self-regulation with agency enforcement as a backstop,” said Ohlhausen. “To remain effective, self-regulators must be able to quickly adapt when new issues pop up. I would like to recognize the important work that DMA is doing in this area along with its partner organizations. The Commission has enjoyed a good working relationship with DMA and we look forward to continuing to work with you as new issues arise.”

Ohlhausen’s remarks came after a panel update on DMA’s Data Standards 2.0 Initiative, an industry-wide undertaking to develop the standards that will govern the marketing industry’s accountability around emergent technology and data innovations. Data Standards 2.0 will update DMA’s marketing compliance standards – DMA’s Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice – to address new developments in today’s data practices.

Chairman Ohlhausen also shared the four principles she believes should be upheld in preserving the benefits of the data-driven economy, including 1) promoting accurate understanding of how data is used in our economy, 2) regulators approaching the data-driven economy with “regulatory humility,” 3) focusing on the identification of real consumer harms instead of potential harms and 4) using appropriate tools to resolve the issues of consumer harm which arise.

These four principles, according to Ohlhausen, should be pursued for a level of consumer protection which allows continued innovation in the responsible use of data. “A data-driven economy brings value to everyone involved,” stated Ohlhausen. “It certainly has value to marketers, as demonstrated by the marketplace for consumer data. A data-driven business is able to reduce waste because it uses consumer data to fine tune its marketing strategies.”

“A data-driven economy also provides benefits for consumers themselves,” added Ohlhausen. “Consumers are now able to receive personalized recommendations about goods and services, allowing them to discover new products that they never knew existed.”

Chairman Ohlhausen’s closing keynote followed a number of panels, including a discussion on the technology, notice and choice, and policy considerations of cross-device identification along with an update on DMA’s ground-breaking Cross-Device Identification Initiative. U.S. Senator Thom Tillis provided the morning’s opening keynote, where he highlighted the power of data to reach informed public policy decisions.

About DMA ( Founded in 1917 and driving the data and marketing agenda for a full century, the Data & Marketing Association (“DMA”) champions deeper consumer engagement and business value through the innovative and responsible use of data-driven marketing. DMA’s brand-leading membership is made up of over 1,400 organizations who are today’s innovative tech and data firms, marketers, agencies, service providers and media companies. By representing the entire marketing ecosystem—demand side and supply side—and engaging more than 100,000 industry professionals annually, DMA is uniquely positioned to convene and guide the industry to bring win/win solutions to the market, and ensure that innovative and disruptive marketing technology and techniques can be quickly applied for ROI.

DMA advances the data-driven marketing industry and serves its members through four principal pillars of leadership: advocating for marketers’ ability to responsibly gather and refine detailed data to identify and fulfill customer needs and interests; innovating to bring solutions forward to the data & marketing ecosystem’s most vexing challenges; educating today’s members of the data & marketing ecosystem to grow and lead marketing organizations in the ever-increasing omnichannel world; and connecting industry participants to stay current, learn best practices and gain access to emerging solutions through &THEN – the largest global event for data-driven marketing – and DMA’s portfolio of other live events.

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