Marketers Fearing Obama Crackdown, Cleanup

Inplace #2

ADOTAS EXCLUSIVE — Washington insiders say that the Obama administration will be more aggressive with actions to protect consumers online.

Two consumer advocacy groups, the Center for Digital Democracy and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate behavioral targeting practices aimed at mobile phone users. The day the FTC received the request and one week before the Obama administration took office, four marketing and advertising associations announced their intent to create an enhanced set of self-regulatory principles for online behavioral advertising.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies, Association of National Advertisers, Direct Marketing Association and Interactive Advertising Bureau are said to be reviewing the areas for self-regulation set forth in the FTC’s proposed self-regulatory principles issued in December 2007.

As marketers, our boundaries for targeting campaigns continue to widen as technology improves. We collect more information than ever before. This, along with the fear of federal regulation, may create a trend for more marketers to take on a dual role as a privacy professional. The International Association for Privacy Professionals (IAPP, provides privacy education and certification for privacy professionals.

While privacy responsibilities fall under the IT or legal umbrella for many organizations, more marketers should understand privacy best practices. In smaller organizations without in-house counsel and a strapped tech department, no one may be held responsible for data privacy.

Marketers may financially benefit from taking on this role in their organization. The 2006 “Privacy Professionals’ Role, Function and Salary Survey” conducted by the IAPP and Ponemon Institute reports that a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) earns 12% more on average than their non-CIPP counterparts.

A firm understanding of privacy principles is the foundation upon which my Best Practices team recognizes areas of potential risk for us and our clients. For example, we have turned down new business with publishers who own websites and collect consumer information during registration without disclosing how the information will be used.

Data privacy and security is also vital as we address fraud in the online industry. Identifying fraud requires data analysis, and preventing fraud in the future could require companies to capture more information. In many cases, expanding the data set analyzed will improve the likelihood of identifying fraudulent patterns.

The consumer’s risk of identity theft increases as more data is collected and stored. Fraud trends would indicate that the number of identity theft complaints the FTC received in 2008 will be greater than the total from 2007 (258,427). The 2008 report should be released in the next month. If you should experience a data breach, maneuvering through the data breach notification laws for each state would be costly.

Take steps now to become a privacy-minded organization by conducting a full audit of your company’s practices. It is an investment that could prevent an investigation by a regulatory body in the future.

Editor’s note: This is a series from Dianna Koltz, director of best practices and email marketing at Memolink, Inc., on how to use business standards to combat online fraud. Here’s part one,  part two, and part three.

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