August is normally quiet in Washington, DC, but in keeping with the theme of 2020, this month has been more frenetic. While we beat back new taxes on the insights industry, we’ve had to tangle with the demise of the U.S.-EU Privacy Shield for data transfer, further pandemic relief, some new threats to pharma MR, the finalization of CCPA, and an attempt to rush the 2020 Census that threatens the statistical viability of most marketing research and data analytics in the U.S.

Tax wins in DC and Nebraska

  • The City Council for Washington, DC, voted at the end of July to reject the proposed three-percent tax on the sale of data, as requested by the Insights Association and a large coalition of interested businesses and associations. We helped wage a successful campaign to defeat it.
  • Nebraska L.B. 946, a bill that would have reduced the state sales tax, but expanded the tax’sreach to cover most services, like marketing research and data analytics, was indefinitely postponed as of late August and is effectively dead.

Privacy Shield struck down and Europe-U.S. data transfers endangered

The European Court of Justice recently struck down the U.S.-EU Privacy Shield, presenting serious challenges to anyone attempting to transfer personal data across the Atlantic. While the Department of Commerce and Federal Trade Commission expect current Privacy Shield program adherents to continue to honor their commitments, the biggest benefit of that membership has been removed for now.

IA’s coalition, Privacy for America, cheered the announcement that leaders on both sides of the ocean are working on a replacement agreement. However, the court decision has also added hurdles to the use of some of the other standard approaches to data sharing, and the activist behind the court case has already filed more than 100 complaints with European data privacy authorities challenging the use of standard contractual clauses and binding corporate rules to comply with the restrictions in the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Further COVID-19 relief on hold

The House and Senate have left town for their August recess without agreeing upon further coronavirus relief legislation. We remain confident Congress eventually will extend and expand the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of forgivable small business loans and we’re advocating for it. The Senate GOP Conference proposed legislation to do so, but agreement seems far off.

New legislative threats to pharma MR

Legislators in Pennsylvania and Michigan are again targeting “gifts” to health care professionals. Pennsylvania H.B. 2643 would potentially prohibit respondent incentives for Pennsylvania health care providers participating in pharmaceutical and medical device marketing research. Michigan H.B. 5940 would potentially do the same for prescribers participating in pharmaceutical marketing research.

CCPA regulations finalized and in force

The California Secretary of State approved final California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) regulations, with a handful of changes, on August 14, and the Attorney General said he was putting those rules into force immediately. (If you need more info on CCPA compliance, start with the IA CCPA portal.) 

Fighting to give the 2020 Census time to count

The Insights Association has struggled with the White House’s policy shift in the last month to try to rush the 2020 Census to conclusion. After requesting an extension of the legal deadlines for reporting census data on April 13 so that the Census Bureau could adapt to COVID-19 and collect data until October 31, the Administration now wants all counting ended a month early (September 30). The shortened timeline is forcing the Census Bureau to compress vital quality check and data processing activities from five months into three months. The Bureau will have to cut back on data review that spots duplicates and misses.

IA joined nearly 900 organizations on a Census Project coalition letter to Congress opposing a rushed count and gathered 87 business organizations and companies in a similar letter from the business community

This has not obviated our push for supplemental funding for the headcount or lining up appropriations for the next fiscal year, but the census rush has taken priority.

Advocacy to Come

Thank you for your continued membership and support, which makes all our work defending and advancing the insights industry possible. Please remember that we are always available to answer your questions on these and other legislative/regulatory/legal issues of importance to our industry. Stay safe and sane!

This information is not intended and should not be construed as or substituted for legal advice. It is provided for informational purposes only. It is advisable to consult with private counsel on the precise scope and interpretation of any laws/regulation/legislation and their impact on your particular business.