Watch Out DRTV: Obama Is Using The FTC to Take Over

by Bill McClellan on Jan 12, 2015 12:57:00 PM

Well that was quick. I just finished a report warning ERA's Board of Directors about the dangerous regulatory environment in 2015 for direct response marketing. It could be worse than I thought.

President Obama has been shut down in Congress by the Republican takeover. Now he has a huge incentive to push his agenda by any means possible. Basically, you should expect him to propose a lot of new regulations.  

Photo President ObamaToday at the FTC, President Obama began his digital push. He called for legislation entitled "The Personal Data Notification and Protection Act" and the "Student Data Privacy Act." The good news is that neither have much chance of becoming law.  

The bad news? Obama is now using the FTC and other regulatory agencies to get his way without debating Republicans in Congress.

That is a recipe for disaster.

What did Obama say to direct response marketing pros?

You can read the White House Fact Sheet for the complete blueprint.  

1. He wants to prohibit marketers from profiting on info collected from students online and in schools.

2. He announced a "Voluntary" Code of Conduct for Smart Grid Consumer Data Privacy.

3. He provided easy access to credit scores to create an "early warning system" for identity theft.

4.  He demanded a single national standard for data breaches.

5. He called for a "30-day shot clock" for marketers to notify on hacked and stolen consumer data.

6. He discussed next steps for his BuySecure initiative on consumer financial protection.

7. He tries to criminalize illicit overseas trade in identities.

8. He indicated that within 45 days, he would release a legislative proposal containing the key themes of his 2012 Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. 

9. He supported the FTC's new one-stop resource for victims of identity theft at .

Why the digital focus?

Privacy and Identity Theft have always been huge problems. The stakes and scrutiny are now growing along with the increase in digital advertising budgets. The President indicated that as cybersecurity threats and identity theft continue to rise, recent polls show that 9 in 10 Americans feel they have in some way lost control of their personal information — and that can lead to less interaction with technology, less innovation, and a less productive economy.

I thought that study could create issues. You can read more about it from my blog post late last year entitled "Perceptions of Privacy: What No One In DRTV Is Talking About".

ERA will continue to work with and actively support the Data Protection Alliance on these issues. We will also partner with our allies at other trade associations to ensure that these proposals do not cause the industry significant harm. 

You can watch the President's remarks (note: video begins around the 43-minute mark). It was the first Presidential visit to the FTC since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937. So it is a pretty big deal with unknown implications as the move is basically unprecedented in modern times.  

Update 2:08 p.m. - During the speech on protecting the country's internet system, U.S. Central Command's Twitter account (@CENTCOM) was hacked by ISIS. There was an apparent leak of sensitive information. Along with the North Korean hack of Sony the cybersecurity stakes continue to escalate quickly.    


Photo Credit: SS&SS


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