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EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and the U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor Program for Consumers

How Can The DMA EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Program or The DMA U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor Program Help You?

These DMA Programs will:

  • Allow European & Swiss consumers, companies and governments to feel more comfortable in engaging in business with companies located in the United States;
  • Offer a means for resolving data privacy complaints; and
  • Help businesses to meet certain Privacy Shield and Safe Harbor requirements.

You can have confidence that companies displaying either the DMA EU-U.S. Privacy Shield or DMA Safe Harbor mark have fulfilled their requirements under these frameworks to subscribe to an independent third-party complaint resolution mechanism. Under these DMA Dispute Resolution Programs, European and Swiss data privacy complaints will be resolved in a timely and straightforward manner. The privacy principles of the Privacy Shield and Safe Harbor frameworks require that privacy complaints be initially addressed by the company’s customer service department or other in-house complaint program. If the individual’s complaint is not addressed to his/her satisfaction then the individual can turn to the appropriate independent dispute resolution service for additional assistance and resolution.

safe harbor shield logoFor Swiss Individuals — Be Sure to Look for the DMA Safe Harbor Mark.

privacy-shield-logoFor European Individuals — Be Sure to Look for the DMA Privacy Shield Mark.

All organizations that comply with the DMA Dispute Resolution Programs will display the appropriate mark(s) in their mail offers, in their print advertisements, and on their websites.

If a company displaying one of these DMA marks does not satisfactorily address your data privacy complaint, you may file a complaint by submitting the appropriate complaint form (instructions provided on this page) or in writing to let us know the details of your complaint. Our address is:

Direct Marketing Association
Attn: Privacy Shield/Safe Harbor Line
1615 L Street NW, Suite 1100
Washington, D.C. 20036

The DMA will contact the company promptly to take appropriate action to address your data privacy complaint. The DMA is ready to provide appropriate sanctions against a company that fails to comply with the privacy principles. (For a complete description regarding the DMA’s process for handling complaints, please refer to the DMA Privacy Shield Program Complaint Process on our website.

What is Privacy Shield/Safe Harbor Line?

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Even with the best of companies complaints can occur. Privacy Shield/Safe Harbor Line acts as an intermediary between European/Swiss consumers and companies located in the United States to resolve data privacy complaints in a timely manner.

Privacy Shield/Safe Harbor Line is a free consumer service sponsored by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Established in 1917, the DMA has a history of providing assistance to its members in adhering to the best marketing practices. For more information you can also contact the DMA at privacyshield@the-dma.org.

Most Frequently Asked Questions by Consumers:

  1. Will Privacy Shield/Safe Harbor Line Refer Complaints to Companies that are not Members of the DMA EU-U.S. Privacy Shield or DMA Safe Harbor Program?
    No. Please refer to the company’s privacy policy to see who is serving as the company’s independent third-party dispute resolution mechanism. You should contact them to have your data privacy complaint addressed if you are not able to seek resolution by the company directly.
  2. Should I contact DMA or the company first to resolve my complaint?
    The first and best course of action is to attempt resolution through the company’s customer service department or other in-house dispute resolution program directly. If the company has neither responded to you within 45 days nor addressed your complaint to your satisfaction then you may file a complaint with the DMA Privacy Shield/Safe Harbor Line.
  3. How Do EU Residents Register Complaints under the DMA Privacy Shield Program?
    European consumers may register complaints under the DMA Privacy Shield Program by submitting an online form or by mail:
    Direct Marketing Association
    Attn: Privacy Shield/Safe Harbor Line
    1615 L Street, NW – Suite 1100 Washington, DC 20036
    fax: 202.955.0085
  4. How Do Swiss Residents Register Complaints under the DMA Safe Harbor Program?
    Swiss consumers may register complaints under the DMA Safe Harbor Program by submitting an online form or by mail:
    Direct Marketing Association
    Attn: Privacy Shield/Safe Harbor Line
    1615 L Street, NW – Suite 1100 Washington, DC 20036
    fax: 202.955.0085
  5. How Will My Complaint be Processed?
    The Privacy Shield/Safe Harbor Line staff makes every effort possible to reach a satisfactory resolution for the consumer.

    In those cases where there is no resolution by the company, consumer complaints will be referred to the DMA’s Privacy Shield/Safe Harbor Program Committee for appropriate review and action.

Sanctions can include:

  • Correction of actions found not to be in compliance with the privacy principles;
  • Correction or deletion of inaccurate personal information;
  • Reimbursement of actual, direct monetary damages incurred by the consumer;
  • Suspension or expulsion from the DMA Shield or Safe Harbor Program;
  • Publicity for non-compliance;
  • Notification to the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the Committee’s decision and a request to remove company from the Shield or Safe Harbor Certification List; and/or
  • Referral to the Federal Trade Commission or Department of Transportation for consideration of governmental enforcement action.

For a complete description regarding the DMA’s process for handling complaints, please refer to the DMA Privacy Shield/Safe Harbor Programs’ Complaint Procedures.

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