Ernest Hollings, chairman of the US Senate Commerce Committee, has amended a privacy bill he introduced last month [WAMN: 23-Apr-02] to cover offline as well as online marketing.

The legislation originally governed internet marketers only, requiring them to ask consumers to opt in before storing “sensitive” information and demanding “robust notice” before use of less confidential details. Firms violating the proposed laws would be open to class action lawsuits by consumers, with possible penalties of $5,000 (€5445; £3427).

Hollings amended the bill at committee stage, adding a proviso that the Federal Trade Commission introduce the same rules for offline marketers within six months of the legislation coming into force (assuming Congress has not first approved equivalent rules).

The change follows the introduction earlier this month of a separate privacy bill by representative Cliff Stearns (Republican, Florida). His proposals governed both on and offline marketers, though their protection of consumers’ details is less strict than Hollings’ legislation [WAMN: 10-May-02].

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff