The Association of Market and Social Research Organisations (AMSRO) has applauded the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) preliminary Digital Platforms Inquiry report and proposals to further protect the privacy of individuals across the digital landscape.
“Ethical behavior, independent certification and privacy law are the three pillars that underpin AMSRO member compliance. The ACCC’s recommendations for an independently reviewed, co-regulated framework to monitor digital giants, such as Facebook and Google, is very welcome,” said Craig Young (main photo), AMSRO president.
“Personal information for market and social research conducted by AMSRO member organisations is collected only with consent and under strict codes and practices, and it’s high time that other organisations collecting, storing and sharing personal information and data comply with a similar regime. If we are to expect ongoing co-operation from the public, whose opinions are the lifeblood of our industry and others, we all need to be transparent, responsible and held to account.”
AMSRO member organisations adhere not only to Australia’s first and only Australian Privacy Principles (APP) registered industry privacy code but also an industry ‘Trust Mark’ – a seal of endorsement that assures business and government organisations they are buying research that is quality-tested and meets not only ethical standards but also goes over and above minimal privacy legislation. The Trust Mark provides the highest level of protection to companies using research services, and in turn, to consumers.
AMSRO Members working under the industry Trust Mark:
- Work under Australia’s first and only registered (APP) Industry Privacy Code, enshrined in Australian law. The Code is adjudicated by the Australian Privacy Commissioner and administered by AMSRO.
- Have an independent annual audit for ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) certification
- Adhere to the industry code of ethics.
AMSRO member companies have a long and successful track record in safeguarding respondent data and continue to conduct legitimate research working under strict privacy rules that protect confidentiality and prohibit any selling.
The Privacy Code imposes some additional requirements including:
- personal information collected for market and social research is de-identified, unless required for legitimate research purposes (e.g. longitudinal studies or at the respondent’s request)
- participation by research subjects in market and social research as carried out by AMSRO members is always voluntary
- market and social researchers use the information collected only for research purposes.
Terry Aulich (above), chair AMSRO privacy compliance committee and former Senator said: “AMSRO, having Australia’s only industry Privacy Code accepted by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, is well ahead of the game. This pursuit of best practice privacy protections, tied to a code of behaviour, that is ethics, and backed by the force of law because it is enshrined in legislation, was a very wise, appropriate and strategic decision by AMSRO.
“The proof is in the pudding, as after 15 years of operating under the code, no AMSRO company has ever been found to be in breach of the Privacy Code.”
A $1 billion industry, market and social research is an important service that benefits all Australians. From political polls and television ratings, to surveys of customer satisfaction and the development of products and services, to studies on public health in Australia, market and social research provides valuable information about the society in which we live. This information helps government, commercial and not-for-profit organisations make informed decisions based upon the interests and needs of their constituents, clients and the general public.
With the national and international focus now on digital platforms, having rigorous privacy compliance processes in organisations will be imperative as consumers and regulators rightfully ramp up their expectations regarding appropriate data use and handling.