The Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives hopefully improves the calculus for the 2020 Census, but will worsen the consumer privacy and data security outlook for the marketing research and data analytics industry.

While the Supreme Court may not allow Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross or other White House officials to testify in lawsuits against the addition of a citizenship question to the decennial questionnaire, the courts may still prevent the Trump Administration from adding the question. House Democrats will also use the budget process to try to kill it. The citizenship question will likely increase the 2020 Census’ cost and compromise its accuracy, which would hurt the research and analytics industry, which cannot conduct a statistically representative study in the U.S. without accurate census data. We’re also lobbying heavily for last-minute budget infusions to avoid significant undercount in rural and heavily minority areas.

A new comprehensive privacy law in California – similar in spirit to the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), but more complicated – is driving pursuit of a preemptive federal privacy law, centered on the FTC, and with the White House supportive, too. Will the new law be better or worse than California? Time (and lobbying) will tell. However, the Democrat House still won’t be able to compromise with the GOP Senate on a national data security law.

Lastly, the FCC will issue new rules reforming the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), reducing the burden on telephone research, but bipartisan legislation in Congress could still make the law worse, and it may only be through private sector stakeholder cooperation that we find solutions to the problems of call blocking and mis-labeling.

-- as published in the 24th Annual RBR Predictions Issue, December 2018.