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Thursday, September 13, 2007


The Direct Marketing Assn. (DMA) is still planning to hold its annual junk mail convention in Chicago starting October 13, but the consumer—without whom the industry would have no business—is still locked out. I just received a brochure from the DMA asking me to sign up for their gala, but nowhere do they invite the public to be their guest to learn just how their names and private information are being manipulated and sold in the amount of $4 billion each year. I had implored John Greco, DMA President, to allow interested consumers in to the exhibition free to quiz the list professionals on just how secure was their sensitive data in all this selling frenzy. Not even the courtesy of a reply to my e-mails. See earlier posts one and two. A lot of big guns will attend from to Xerox to lend their knowledge to participants, many of whom come there just for the socialization. I should know. As a data broker I was there for close to seventy of these get-togethers myself. I always wondered why it was such a secretive business; tell a friend you were in direct marketing and they replied, “What is that?” Tell them you’re in junk mail and they counter, “So you’re the one.” The biggest secret in junk mail is an audited accounting of just what the actual total is for the sale of names and personal data; my figure of $4 billion is based on 35 years in the business, and a formula I had to develop because no one in the industry could, or would, give me a figure. Since it is the individual’s name, address and private information, and because it is he or she who suffers as an ID theft victim if it is lost or stolen, this person should have control over their sensitive data, and they should be compensated when it is sold. It is a fiduciary arrangement of sorts, and there should be a legal means of enforcement heavily in favor of the consumer. Just how to get this done—and an about-face from an earlier position—in tomorrow’s blog.

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