In the UK, the Market Research Society (MRS) has strengthened its Code of Conduct and issued new Mobile Research Guidelines, emphasizing privacy and data protection rights.
The association says all researchers should 'pay close attention' to the new rules, in a world of increasingly complex data collection and with public concern over privacy and data protection 'at an all-time high'; and is seeking feedback on their content.
The mobile guidelines are the first to be issued internationally in collaboration with fellow trade bodies AMSRS in Australia and CASRO in the US, and include global standards and best practices across a range of areas, from sample sourcing to geotargeting, as well as giving specific advice at a national level.
The changes to the main Code lay out 'much clearer requirements' on obtaining participants' 'informed consent', providing fully transparent information about use and storage of the data collected, and requirements to maintain anonymity. The MRS says the changes are 'future-proofed' because they are methodology neutral, allowing for further advances in technology. They also replace the word 'respondent' with 'participant', reflecting 'the increasing use of passive data collection techniques in the research process'.
Jane Frost, the organisation's CEO, comments: 'Some 58% of enquiries to MRS' Codeline advisory service last year were from people concerned over data collection methods highlighting action is necessary to tackle these concerns. We must also recognise the dramatic speed of change in research and, with the sector contributing £3 billion to the UK economy every year, ensure the rules are updated to protect the sector's long-term success... 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.'
Comments on the Code changes - on the MRS site - and the Mobile Research Guidelines should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 December 2013.
All articles 2006-20 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.