Protecting the Profession

"In today’s environment, the potential for government overreach makes all that IA is doing so especially critical. A special thank you for all of your hard work and efforts to protect and support our industry. It is really appreciated.”

•••  Bill McInturff, Co-founder, Public Opinion Strategies (member since IA’s founding) 

Protecting Your Profession

The Insights Association protects and promotes market research and data analytics before legislative, regulatory and judicial bodies. IA members receive regular advisories regarding these matters to limit operational risk, lower costs and assist with their own efforts to increase acceptance of research/analytics.

Led by a full-time Washington, DC-based lobbyist, IA closely monitors legislative and regulatory activity on the Federal and state level, providing expert information to legislators and regulators on various issues that may potentially impact insights business practices. Our top advocacy concerns include:

--- The Insights Association supports a comprehensive U.S. privacy law.
--- IA supports a national data security standard.
--- IA promotes favored treatment for ISO 27001-certified companies against data security litigation.

The Insights Association lobbies for comprehensive privacy legislation at the federal level, modeled on the framework put forth by Privacy for America, a coalition we helped to found, which would preempt the growing morass of conflicting state laws and improve the situation for the insights industry in the U.S.

Where possible, IA aims to deter state comprehensive privacy legislation (like the laws in California, Colorado and Virginia) in favor of federal action, or at least to moderate it and improve its treatment of the insights industry and our ability to collect, analyze and share appropriately-protected data for purposes of market research and data analytics.

IA advocates for a carefully-crafted national standard for consumer data security and breach notification, instead of the current patchwork of state laws with conflicting data security standards and uneven procedures for notifying consumers in case of a security breach.

Companies and organizations certified to good data security standards, like ISO 27001, deserve greater protection in law against data security breach litigation.

The Insights Association supports full funding and integrity of the decennial census and the American Community Survey (ACS).

Accurate data from the 2030 Census and the ongoing ACS (formerly the census “long form”) are the statistical benchmarks necessary for producing statistically-representative market research in the United States. These programs are also central to promoting economic growth, guiding the prudent allocation of public and private resources, and sustaining a strong democracy.

An additional issue has arisen recently: the Ask U.S. Panel project, which the Insights Association opposes, since it involves the U.S. Census Bureau competing directly with the insights industry.

The Insights Association supports laws and regulations most likely to recognize that research subjects receiving participant incentives are independent contractors, not employees.

Federal and state labor and tax agencies sometimes classify research subjects receiving incentives for participation in market research as employees of the companies conducting the research, which can be costly and generally detrimental to insights work. Some states’ laws/regulations are (inadvertently) so flawed (such as those with an ABC test) that they make it difficult for research subjects to be properly classified as independent contractors. Even attempting to clarify research subjects’ status can go awry, as when California ended up requiring research subjects be paid minimum wage (a law IA helped to fix in 2021). We advocate for treating research subjects receiving any kind of compensation as independent contractors, not employees.

The Insights Association opposes taxes that specifically target the insights industry and our work.

IA opposes taxes on the theoretical value of consumer data, on data sales, or on the revenues specifically of insights companies, and opposes applying state sales taxes to services (absent an insights industry carveout). All such taxes would increase the cost of planning and decision-making in the public and private sectors, disincentivizing the insights essential to economic prosperity.

The Insights Association advocates for the ability to conduct independent market research with health care professionals when sponsored by pharma companies.

Critics of the pharmaceutical and medical device industry’s payments to health care professionals have driven regulation requiring public reporting of payments from such companies to doctors, nurses and other providers or prescribers. Absent exemptions, such requirements will usually crater market research with such professionals. Some states have even tried to ban payments altogether. IA works to exempt participant incentives for market research from such laws and regulations, or to defeat the measures, and we have been generally successful for more than a dozen years. This includes exemptions IA has won for market research in the District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and in the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act.

The Insights Association opposes foreign data localization/nationalization.
IA seeks to remove barriers to international data flows through digital trade deals like the 2020 United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
IA supports “harmonization” of foreign data privacy regimes to a U.S. standard.
IA supports the revival or replacement of the U.S.-EU Privacy Shield, which would allow for safe and reliable data transfer from the EU to the U.S.

Data localization laws and regulations directly or indirectly require U.S. companies and organizations to process and maintain data within a given foreign country. Laws like the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation attempt to force U.S. companies to adopt significantly more restrictive foreign data privacy laws that may not necessarily benefit consumers. Both types often amount to digital protectionism.

-- The Insights Association opposes legislation/regulation that would require unnecessary disclosures during political and public opinion polls
-- IA supports legislation like New Hampshire’s law that properly targets deceptive practices while exempting bona fide research.

A "push poll" -- an advocacy or persuasion call disguised as a poll -- is a particularly deceptive and unethical activity. Laws and regulations should demand transparency of political advocacy calls and protect legitimate political and public opinion research (including message testing).

-- The Insights Association opposes the use of uncompensated noncompete agreements in employment contracts for all but the most senior employees.
-- IA supports the continued use of nondisclosure agreements and non-solicitation agreements.
-- IA opposes legislation/regulation that would impede the insights industry’s ability to hire, and insights professionals ability to compete for the best jobs.