HFA joins business coalition on data privacy

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The Home Furnishings Association has joined a business coalition advocating responsible use of consumer data.

The coalition, spearheaded by the National Retail Federation, also includes the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, the American Insurance Association and many California organizations.

The coalition’s goal is to support national legislation that sets requirements for securing personal data and protecting privacy while allowing businesses to use consumer information to build mutually beneficial relationships with their customers.

In the absence of congressional action, states are beginning to enact laws to regulate online engagement by businesses with people who use their websites. The California Consumer Protection Act, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2020, gives consumers the right to know what data businesses collect about them and to demand that all information be deleted. It further requires that individuals who ask to have their data deleted can’t be discriminated against as a result. That feature of the law indicates that retailers couldn’t offer special deals or loyalty program benefits to customers based on online interactions or shopping experience if they did not offer the same deals to those who had their data deleted.

In recent comments to the California attorney general, who is writing an enforcement plan for the state’s privacy law, the National Retail Federation and the California Retailers Association emphasized that retailers’ use of customer data is different from how the finance industry and other businesses utilize it:

“In short, retailers use consumer data for the principal purpose of serving their customers as they wish to be served,” the letter said. “Retailers’ use of personal information is not an end in itself but primarily a means to achieving the goal of improved customers service. This differentiates retailers’ principal use of customer data from businesses – such as service providers, data brokers and other third parties unknown to the consumer – that primarily collect, process and sell consumer data as a business-to-business service.”

HFA’s Government Relations Action Team believes that HFA members’ interests can be served most effectively by joining our voice to those of other business groups with similar concerns. Participating in this coalition will help HFA stay informed about and shape state and federal actions related to this important issue.