Data privacy legislation remains one of the biggest threats facing the research profession in Congress.

  • Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL-01) has reintroduced his comprehensive data privacy bill, the “Best Practices Act” (H.R. 611), which MRA continues to oppose.
  • Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA-12) has introduced the “Do Not Track Me Online Act” (H.R. 654), which would establish a “Do Not Track” mechanism for online data collection. While the target of her bill appears to be online advertising, it will require more careful study to determine if it could adversely impact survey and opinion research.
  • Rep. Speier also has introduced a bill to make the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act much more restrictive for financial information sharing, including for survey and opinion research purposes. The “Financial Information Privacy Act” (H.R. 653) would require that financial institutions obtain consumers’ express, opt-in consent before disclosing nonpublic personal information to nonaffiliated third parties. H.R. 653 also would prevent financial institutions from sharing such information with their affiliates without first providing consumers with notice and an opportunity to opt out.
  • Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is drafting legislation regarding minors’ online data privacy and may propose expanding the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to cover anyone under the age of 18 years, instead of the existing restrictions on children under the age of 13.
  • Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL-06) is drafting a comprehensive data privacy bill. Last year, he joined with Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA-09) in drafting a bill which would have been even more detrimental to research than Rep. Rush’s “Best Practices Act.” They never completed their joint legislation and Rep. Boucher was defeated in last year’s elections. MRA has had ongoing discussions with Rep. Stearns’ staff and they have indicated they might explicitly exclude survey and opinion research from the final bill.

In addition to all the data privacy work on Capitol Hill, MRA is also filing comments in response to data privacy proposals from the Department of Commerce and Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

It is a busy time for privacy in Washington, DC!