Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Drawing boundaries on what information can be shared

A lot of what happens in Washington gets hidden behind red tape, incredibly long bills, and inane babble. As a result the general public has largely tuned out its activity...to its own detriment. But these laws affect us, even those in marketing, and it is in our best interest to pay attention.

The Best Practices Act (H.R. 5777) is one of those examples. At its core, the bill seeks to place parameters around what information can and cannot be shared for things like market research. Bobby Rush, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee put it this way, "The BEST PRACTICES Act speaks to a host of issues affecting consumer privacy, including consumers' expectations as to how their personal information should be handled, shared, and disclosed to third parties...and how to calibrate penalties and other possible legal causes of action without chilling industry incentives to innovate and grow their businesses."

Even though the bill has yet to be passed it is creating a bit of a stir within the market research community. Our friends at Quirks.com have posted a great article that represents their perspective.

We all understand how valuable data is in terms of understanding consumer behavior. We also understand the importance of maintaining privacy of certain information. A middle ground can be achieved that accomplishes both aims. It will be very interesting to see how this thing plays out. But be patient, it will probably take awhile.