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Data Security Heating Up for Real Estate

By Robert Freedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

Back in 2006, NAR worked with the Federal Trade Commission on a campaign to help REALTORS® help their customers protect their identity against theft, online theft but also offline theft as well. The campaign included an educational video and a brochure that REALTORS® can give their customers.

Now, data security is back in the news, with Congress starting to look at new bills for protecting consumers. One of the bills, by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), would require any company or individual who collects personal information for commercial purposes to have in place a plan for keeping that information secure.

Real estate professionals already understand and are sensitive to security issues and have policies in place. As it is, almost all states have laws on the books mandating data security policies.

To look at the impact of some of the new bills in Congress under discussion or coming down the pike, the magazine sat down for a short discussion with Melanie Wyne, NAR’s policy analyst on the issue.

One point that Wyne made: it’s not just data security that Congress is looking into; privacy bills are coming down the pike, too. Privacy is an entirely separate issue, although it’s closely related to data security. Privacy concerns how companies and individuals use the information they collect for marketing purposes; data security concerns keeping consumer information safe from theft. It’s possible the two issues could get considered together this fall. If so, the rules you follow for managing the data you collect could be impacted.

You’ll want to stay tuned as the issue heats up in a month or two. The video interview above can give you a picture of what to expect.

Robert Freedman

Robert Freedman is manager of multimedia communications for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. He can be reached at rfreedman@realtors.org.

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