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The "Right" Turn For Data-Driven Marketers

midterm 1The Republican wins across the country in the 2014 mid-term elections could produce setbacks in the fight to protect both consumer privacy and marketing innovation.  Certainly, the past 2-3 years have seen increased interest in privacy legislation and regulation, which has often seemed like the only thing that both parties could agree on.

Marketers have had cause for worry.  Our digital lifestyles have made consumer data the fuel for customer connections. It’s often true that what is cool and powerful to marketers is misunderstood and thus creepy to consumers and policy makers.

Now that Republicans are in control of both chambers, how will they govern?   The impact of the GOP romp in this November’s midterm elections will become clear as new members take their places and new leadership is announced.   Some members have already started to voice their interest in key roles.

The Direct Marketing Association suggests these three things to watch:

  • In the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, previous ranking member John Thune (R-SD) will succeed the retired Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) as chairman of the committee. The DMA expects that many of the committee’s current privacy-related initiatives, such as the ongoing investigation into the data broker industry, will no longer be pursued.  However, the DMA does expect to see some consideration given to privacy and consumer-related issues, such as a proposed hearing on the “Internet of Things” being spearheaded by a bipartisan group of committee members.
  • In the Senate Judiciary Committee, current chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are expected to swap roles. Grassley and Leahy are likely to continue their work on originating data breach notification legislation in the committee.  A Judiciary Committee bill would also include tools for federal law enforcement to combat criminal hacking.  Senator Al Franken (D-MN) will likely push to advance his geolocation privacy and cyberstalking bill, but it remains unclear whether Grassley will take up the issue and seek business community consensus in order to advance the bill.
  • On the committee level in the House, Representative Lee Terry (R-NE), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, and friend to data-driven marketers, lost his reelection bid.

midterm2For a more extensive look at election results, lame duck priorities, and a preview of the 114th Congress, please watch the DMA’s recent webinar.

The next few weeks will reveal more about the urgency of any pending regulatory scrutiny as leadership roles are confirmed and the lame duck Congress agenda emerges. In the meantime, stay #TopRight.

Editors Update:  

The Republican Steering Committee voted the week of November 17th on a slate of House Committee chairs for the 114th Congress (which will begin in January 2015).

Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) will continue to chair the Judiciary Committee, which shares jurisdiction over privacy and data security issues with the E&C Committee.

Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) will continue as chairman of the Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee, which has jurisdiction over privacy, data security and other marketing issues.  Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX) will take the important Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade (CMT) Subcommittee gavel. So far, there has been no word yet on Burgess’ priorities as chairman.

As current ranking member Henry Waxman (D-CA)’s retirement grows near, the House Democrats this week decided the battle for the top Democratic spot on the E&C Committee.  Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) was tapped for the post.

With current chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) stepping down, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) was chosen to take over the Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) Committee, which has jurisdiction over postal issues.

Subcommittee chairman for the Judiciary, Homeland Security and OGR Committees have not yet been announced.  A full list of House Republican leadership for the 113th Congress can be found here.

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