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To our pleasant surprise, Congress has actually been cutting compromises on federal privacy legislation, as the Insights Association has been seeking, so that has been a big focus this month, along with other privacy and data security concerns. Also on this month’s docket have been rules to treat a research subject as an independent contractor, the use of employee non-compete agreements, funding for the U.S. Census, and the regulation of alcohol market research.

Consumer Privacy & Data Security

The leadership of the House Energy & Commerce Committee joined forces with the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee to push a comprehensive federal privacy bill in June, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act. While far from a great legislative product – it sports big concerns for the insights industry in its enforcement provisions (which include limited private lawsuits) and its somewhat limited preemption of conflicting state laws, which are evidence of difficult compromises – the Insights Association welcomed this initial step forward and dug into negotiation and advocacy over the functional details of the legislation and their impact on how our industry functions. In concert with Privacy for America and others, the Insights Association was able to ensure in the new version of the bill that the use of participant incentives for research subjects would not be impeded and to improve the treatment of independent audience measurement. More work remains, with the bill headed to a full committee vote in a couple of weeks.

IA also took a closer look at the Kids Online Safety Act, a federal bill that would raise the applicable COPPA age to anyone under the age of 17 and specifically restrict market research with minors.

Our push for a federal privacy standard is driven by concerns about a messy state patchwork, which is why we are still engaged on multiple policy battles in the states, such as:

  • The new regulator for privacy in the Golden State, the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA), just released draft regulations to implement the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA); 
  • Comprehensive state privacy legislation in North Carolina, similar to Colorado and Virginia laws, which would be enforceable mostly by the state Attorney General , but include a limited private right of action; and
  • New York legislation that would require entities suffering a data security breach to notify affected consumers within five days.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, we saw new guidelines that would put the European Union’s (EU) various Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) on the same page when calculating fines for violations of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Other issues

Research Subjects = Independent Contractors

  • The U.S. Department of Labor is hosting forums this month with employers and employees prior to initiating yet another rulemaking on who qualifies as an employee or an independent contractor.  (Labor law treatment of independent contractor status is an issue of prime importance in the use of incentives for research subjects in the insights industry.)

U.S. Census

  • As the Congressional appropriations process slowly moves forward for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23), the Insights Association is supporting a significant increase in funding for the decennial census and the American Community Survey (ACS).  Quality data from these constitutionally mandated programs are essential to the function of the insights industry’s work.

Human Resources

  • Severe restrictions on the use of non-compete agreements for Washington, DC employees will come into law on October 1, 2022.

Alcohol Market Research

  • Legislation moving forward in California would make clarifications to the requirements for and restrictions on alcohol market research that should be minor, but positive for the insights industry.

Heated summer policy battles

The Insights Association is only able to effectively combat these and other policy issues across the U.S. because of the fantastic support we receive from all our members and sponsors. YOU provide the resources we need to defend and advance the whole insights industry.

We remain available to answer your questions on these and other legislative/regulatory/legal issues. Please stay in touch.

As a reminder, IA will be hosting the next General Counsel and Privacy Officer Forum on July 11. As always, only IA company and corporate department members may participate in this exclusive off-the-record meeting.

About the Author

Howard Fienberg

Howard Fienberg

Based in Washington, DC, Howard is the Insights Association's lobbyist for the marketing research and data analytics industry, focusing primarily on consumer privacy and data security, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), tort reform, and the funding and integrity of the decennial Census and the American Community Survey (ACS). Howard has more than two decades of public policy experience. Before the Insights Association, he worked in Congress as senior legislative staffer for then-Representatives Christopher Cox (CA-48) and Cliff Stearns (FL-06). He also served more than four years with a science policy think tank, working to improve the understanding of scientific and social research and methodology among journalists and policymakers. Howard is also co-director of The Census Project, a 900+ member coalition in support of a fair and accurate Census and ACS. He has also served previously on the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics and and the Association of Government Relations Professionals. Howard has an MA International Relations from the University of Essex in England and a BA Honors Political Studies from Trent University in Canada, and has obtained the Certified Association Executive (CAE), Professional Lobbying Certificate (PLC) and the Public Policy Certificate (PPC). When not running advocacy for the Insights Association, Howard enjoys hockey, NFL football, sci-fi and horror movies, playing with his dog, and spending time with family and friends.

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