The U.S. Department of Commerce is conducting a comprehensive review of the nexus between privacy policy and innovation in the Internet economy. This encompasses the impact of current privacy laws in the United States and around the world regarding the pace of innovation in the information economy. The goal is to determine whether current privacy laws serve consumer interests and fundamental democratic values. A report will be issued that will contribute to the Administration’s domestic policy and international engagement in the area of Internet privacy.

In comments provided by MRA, it was emphasized that the Department should promote self-regulatory approaches to privacy protection, such as the MRA Code of Marketing Research Standards. Not only should these standards be implemented to support protection of consumer privacy and confidentiality, but the specifics of protecting consumers should be determined according to the individual endeavors of each business in a self-regulated framework.

Furthermore, the multitude of federal and state privacy laws creates a fragmented privacy framework, complicating compliance for survey and opinion researchers. MRA therefore urged the Department to endorse federal privacy laws that pre-empt the numerous privacy laws on the state level.

MRA further emphasized that this framework be based on the needs of businesses and consumers within the United States and their respective perceptions of and needs for privacy – not on the perceptions and needs of foreign countries. Additionally, consumers’ privacy needs should be balanced with the ability to share information needed to conduct business. In economically perilous times, MRA insisted that the U.S. not follow in the footsteps of struggling European economies and their massive tangle of privacy laws.

Read the complete MRA comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding “Information Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy."