Rules, regulations and codes of conduct could be perceived to have an air restriction, especially in creative industries. However, when you are dealing with issues around privacy and data protection, these guidelines are a necessity for the reputation of the channel being used and for the research industry as a whole.
This week, The Market Research Society (MRS) has toughened its Code of Conduct and is issuing new mobile research guidelines to tackle growing privacy and data protection concerns, after receiving an increasing number of queries and complaints about data use.
The mobile guidelines are the first international rules issued by MRS in collaboration with The Australian Market and Social Research Society and The Council of American Survey Research Organisations.
The mobile guidelines provide global standards and best practices across a range of areas, including sample sourcing to geotargeting, while also offering specific advice on national rules and legislation.
The update to the code involves clearer requirements on what researchers need to do to ensure that they have obtained participants’ informed consent – ensuring they are completely transparent about what data is going to be collected and how it will be stored, managed and used.
In addition, there are new rules to protect an individual’s anonymity and to require researchers to be clear about what information can and cannot be used when it has come from a source other than the individual.
When complaints are received it’s obviously important to react, but it’s also important that these rules are there to guide those that conduct, commission or participate in research and for consumers to know that these rules are in place, even though they are self-regulatory.
The MRS is also seeking feedback to ensure the code and guidelines on mobile provide that regulatory framework for researchers.
Its chief executive Jane Frost believes that “new innovations, such as social media, big data and the growth of digital and mobile research, provide new opportunities but this must be balanced with the need to properly protect participants and research suppliers,” and I agree.
Mobile research has numerous positives for the industry in terms of real-time data and insight so it would be a shame for respondents to be put off by malpractice, which is why these guidelines are a positive for the sector.
It’s important that rules keep up with the pace of change but also that these guidelines can be adapted as ways and means of data collection and retrieving insight develop.
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