This month, the Insights Association is dealing with new privacy legislation in more states, addressing more data tax problems, advocating for additional census funding, and making significant progress in efforts to improve California A.B. 2257.

Consumer privacy

Connecticut and Colorado are barreling ahead with comprehensive privacy legislation related to or modeled on Virginia's recently passed law.

Meanwhile, a pair of bills in Nevada are advancing what would broaden the restrictions in the state privacy notice and opt out of sale laws for many insights companies, which would be designated as “data brokers,” while another bill would expand the law to cover public awareness campaigns.

Massachusetts is considering restrictions on facial recognition and related technology.

And in California:

  • A.B. 1252 would potentially expand the state's medical privacy law to include MR;
  • A.B. 587 would restrict social media user and content moderation;
  • A.B. 13 would require state contract awards that include automated decision systems for high-risk applications provide the most “value effective solution” to the state’s needs and require disclosures around such systems in certain contract bids, such that it might restrict the production of a research sample;
  • A.B. 814 would prohibit data used in contact tracing from being used for anything else; and
  • S.B. 746 would expand the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) with new disclosure requirements for businesses that may use a consumer's personal information for a “political purpose,” including opinion polling and other kinds of research, and C-suite leaders being held criminally liable if their companies fail to comply.

At the federal level, we are still pursuing a federal privacy law with Privacy for America, but Congress has been distracted by a recent Supreme Court ruling that trimmed back the power of the insights industry's primary regulator, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Members of Congress have also zeroed-in on minors’ privacy, reintroducing legislation like the Clean Slate for Kids Act that would grant children a right to delete their personal data and adults a right to delete data collected from them when they were minors, adding an online eraser requirement to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Finally, IA recently provided answers to several FAQs on collecting and handling data on race, ethnicity and gender.

Tax

A curious legal theory treating consumer data as a natural resource being extracted from New York is breathing new life into a worrisome bill that would levy an excise tax on consumer data collection.

Census

The bipartisan 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act was reintroduced, with IA's endorsement, to grant the Census Bureau the legal authority to deliver 2020 Census results on a coronavirus-delayed timeline.

However, IA is also looking ahead, as we normally do, to the annual funding needed for the decennial census and the American Community Survey (ACS), joining a Census Project coalition letter urging $2 billion for the Census Bureau in FY 22. This funding level will accommodate the delivery of 2020 Census data products (delayed into FY22 by the pandemic), modernization of the Bureau's data infrastructure and expansion of the American Community Survey (ACS).

Research Subjects = Independent Contractors

A final rule issued by the U.S. Department of Labor on May 5 officially killed the Trump Administration’s attempt to redraft the federal labor law regulation of independent contractor status, an issue of prime importance in the use of incentives for research subjects in the insights industry. The Insights Association had been generally pleased at the clarification in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of the economic realities test from the Trump Administration proposal, but also extremely disappointed that the Labor Department did not affirmatively clarify that research subjects who receive incentives are independent contractors instead of employees.

However, the biggest news on this issue in May came on California A.B. 2257, the law in California requiring prorated hourly minimum wages for California research subjects. IA's campaign bore fruit with the initial approval of legislation to fix the law by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 19. If passed into law, the bill will provide a favorable resolution for the insights industry and our relationships with research subjects.

We continue to be aided in this campaign by our A.B. 2257 advocacy working group: MaterialPlus.io, Vital Findings, Quadrant Strategies, Full Circle Research, Branded Research, Precision Sample, MarketVision, Public Opinion Strategies, Dynata, Rybbon, Prodege, Schlesinger Group, Lucid, Nielsen and UserTesting.

Other donors supporting us include: Rare Patient Voice, Olivetree Insights, Fifth Element Associates, Q-Catalytics, Veridata Insights, Clarion Research, Bauman Research & Consulting, WestGroup, Harmon Research Group, Global Market Research Group, Armature Group, Charter Oak Field Services, Information Specialists Group, SurveyHealthcare / InCrowd, Beall Group, FUEL, Voccii, and Joe Ottaviani.

Please remember that, to ensure the Insights Association's best chances of success, we launched a separate round of fundraising that still needs your donations. All donors will be recognized in our updates to the membership, and donors of $2,500 or more will join our A.B. 2257 advocacy working group.

Telephone

While the insights industry is still getting its collective head around how freely to approach research via phone after our win at the Supreme Court in April, IA is keeping tabs on Congressional legislation that would increase the penalties for spoofing of caller identification (ID) and a Connecticut bill that would punish moving certain kinds of call centers out of state.

Your Membership in the Insights Association Matters

All of us at the Insights Association are grateful for your continued membership and support -- it underpins our defense and advancement of the insights industry, since IA revenues support advocacy like we have discussed here, and other ventures in support of the industry.

We are always available to answer your questions on these and other legislative/regulatory/legal issues. May our industry grow and thrive!