Bill Proposal Angers Marketers

A new federal bill would require data brokers and marketers to allow people to opt out of having information about themselves collected and sold – a proposal that already has marketers and advertisers bristling.

Introduced in the Senate in February by Commerce Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), the Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA) would give consumers the right to access and correct collected information or refuse to have it gathered by data brokers at all. Additionally, the bill empowers the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the regulations and impose civil penalties on data sellers.

The bill’s introduction highlights Washington’s intensifying focus on how consumer data is collected and used today – information that ranges from their mortgage status to the car they drive. That type of data is then used to create targeted ads and marketing pitches to consumers.

“This booming shadow industry that generated more than $150 billion in 2012 and operates with very little scrutiny and oversight is making tremendous profits off practices that can be disturbing and totally unfair to consumers,” Rockefeller said.

While the FTC has voiced support of the bill, marketers and advertisers are already lining up in opposition. The Direct Marketing Association, which late last year released research that said data brokering contributed $156 billion to the U.S. economy, is expected to lobby hard against the proposed legislation.

“Imposing an access and correction regime on marketing data is not necessary to protect consumer privacy and doing so would make it harder for companies to keep data secure at a time when consumers are more concerned about identity theft than ever before,” Peggy Hudson, DMA’s senior vice president of government affairs, said in a statement.

The bill is expected to be debated and considered in the Senate this year. However, legal analysts believe it would face a much tougher road to becoming a law in the House of Representatives.