This the first of what I hope to be a (short) series of posts from the ESOMAR Congress in Athens. The theme, not surprisingly, is Odyssey: The Changing Face of Market Research. The change part of that tile refers to the double challenge of (1) an onslaught of new methods and (2) the still difficult economic environment. More on that in later posts. For now I want to focus on still another truly pressing issue the industry faces and that is privacy. For most of the last decade the EU's privacy laws have more or less set the standard for the profession. Now looking at all of the changes that have come to pass over that decade the EU is taking a second look and its privacy laws may undergo significant revision. Depending on how all of this sorts out these revisions could make life a lot more difficult for researchers. There are five areas of concern:
- Online profiling vs. segmentation
- The definition of what constitutes a child
- Online tracking
- The definition of "consent'
- Statistical data vs scientific data--how are they defined
As always in these matters the interests of research are best served by helping governments understand two things. The first is that research is different from commercial speech (aka selling). Thus the importance of always resisting to cross that fine line between research and marketing. The second is continually displaying the strength of our industry's self-regulation. It's key here that professional and trade associations not only develop and publish guidelies, codes, standards, etc. but that they enforce them among both members and non-members alike.