Personal data leads to personal choice

In today’s technological era, New Zealand
consumers are increasingly taking advantage of their ability to be selective
when it comes to the marketing messages they receive. Equally, they are not so
naïve as to believe the data they provide won’t be used to communicate with
them in the future—if they so
choose. The power is in their hands to choose
to receive the sort of things that interest them and suit their lifestyle – and
to opt-out of those that aren’t relevant.

The feature on private details being sold that ran in the Herald on 26 September suggested the Privacy Commissioner is seeking powers to monitor companies that
collect and sell personal information. However,
the Commissioner is already engaged with the Marketing Association; she is
supportive of its self-regulatory activities and appreciates the enormous
lengths ‘data brokers’ go to to ensure that the personal data they collect and
store is compliant with The Privacy Act 1993. Their businesses depend upon it.

The Marketing
Association’s 540+ member companies (including those named in yesterday’s
article) are bound by codes of practice and best practice guidelines as a
condition of their membership. Additionally, ‘data broker’ and list owner members
also subscribe to the association’s Do Not Mail and Do Not Call lists against
which they cleanse consumer lists, and are registered on a voluntary programme
to have their lists audited and warranted as being compliant with New Zealand

The marketing
industry absolutely agrees that consumers should feel confident their
personal information is not at risk and should be made aware of what their
rights are. There is, therefore, a balancing act between the protection of consumers’
rights and the right of marketers to add to their business’ success, which in
turn leads to economic growth for the whole country.

This is a global
challenge, but New Zealand is leading the way. A specialist group of industry
participants is already in the business planning stages of developing a new
service that will be implemented next year. This will provide an extension to
the MA’s existing, successful and government-endorsed suppression services to
encompass email addresses and mobile numbers in addition to the current name,
address and telephone number suppression.

New Zealand marketers
demonstrate a consistent commitment to socially and ethically-responsible
marketing practices. Protection of consumers’ rights plays an intrinsic part in
how they operate in today’s marketplace.

  • Sue McCarty is chief executive of the Marketing

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