Acxiom CEO: Company Welcomes Federal Regulation

Acxiom CEO: Company Welcomes Federal Regulation
Scott Howe

Acxiom Corp. CEO Scott Howe said late last week that the Conway company welcomes federal regulation that could bring about more protection of consumer data while "democratizing" how data is used.

"We are rapidly approaching a moment of great importance in our society — in the wake of recent congressional testimony and data scrutiny there has never been more support for legislation that addresses accountability for the uses of data and increases consumer control," Howe wrote in a blog post published Thursday. "How we apply our beliefs and values as a country in this moment is critical. We need to get this right."

Howe was referring to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's appearance before a pair of congressional committees in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal. Cambridge Analytica, a consulting firm that worked for the Donald Trump presidential campaign, obtained data on 87 million Facebook users without their permission.

Following the scandal, the social media giant decided to stop offering data provided by Acxiom and other third-party companies.

In Thursday's blog post, Howe said that while state laws have been proposed to regulate data collection, any privacy legislation should take place at the federal level to avoid having different requirements in each state, which he said could create confusion.

Howe also emphasized that Acxiom is engaging in ethical data practices.

"Acxiom, like many other conscientious companies, believes that everyone who handles data must be transparent and accountable for ensuring it is used in ways that benefit consumers and protects them from harm," he wrote. "We have been a leader in ethical data practices for decades, because innovation typically outpaces law making, and we believe it's our responsibility to ensure ethical outcomes for data use.

"Beyond merely addressing what is legal, our policies encompass what is just to prevent individual harms and what is fair to ensure all stakeholders – including consumers, societies, and economies – benefit from how data is used. And we enforce our policies through governance practices that are rigorous, demanding, and effective."

Howe said policy debates should center on five key principals: that consumers have effective controls; data collection must follow ethical practices; data uses must be ethical and deliver clear consumer benefits; organizations ensure policies are enforced; and organizations must protect the data in their care.

"Crisis can be a catalyst for change, and we must not let this moment pass us by. We have an opportunity to democratize how data is used in our society by increasing visibility and control for consumers and by ensuring that everyone in our data-driven economy has an equal opportunity to collaborate and thrive," Howe wrote. "It's up to all of us to ensure this happens, and we must take action to create this future starting now. Let's democratize data and change the world for good."

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