• Privacy
    • Data Collection & Processing
    • Data Security Breach
    • FTC Reauthorization
    • Human Subjects Research
  • Telephone
    • Political Calls
  • Census
    • Funding
    • Reorganization
  • Sales
    • Spam
    • Telemarketing, etc.
  • Tax/Budget
    • Travel Research

Current Legislation

Data Collection & Processing
Russia - Russia's new "Governmental Order 687: Regulation on Non-Automatic Handling of Information" requires extensive registration with the Russian Ministry of Communication for the handling of any personal data collected or processed “non-automatically," meaning collection and processing methods for which there is "direct personal involvement" with data. Personal data whose collection and processing meet this definition will remain covered even if the data go on to be stored on or retrieved from an automated information system. The completed registration forms must specify the purposes for which data are to be processed, the name and address of the data processor, the full name, nationality and address of the data subject, the source from which data are to be retrieved, a list detailing each stage of data processing and a general description of the data. The forms also must include evidence of data subjects’ written consent to processing. Order 687 also requires certain security measures for processing of non-automatically handled data, including a method to determine where each document containing the data is stored and a systematic listing of who has or has had access to information about the location of the data.

Data Security Breach
MA - Has passed into law the “Standards for The Protection of Personal Information of Residents of the Commonwealth,” which will become effective January 1, 2009. The new law states that if a company “owns, licenses, stores or maintains” personal information about Massachusetts residents, that company must have specific information security requirements. The law covers “personal information” of both consumers and employees, which is a defined to include a Massachusetts resident's name in combination with his or her Social Security number, driver's license or state ID card number, or financial account or credit or debit card number that would permit access to the resident's financial account. The new law applies to both paper and electronic records, but does not apply to publicly available information.

The law requires covered entities to develop, implement, maintain and monitor a comprehensive written information security program that is reasonably consistent with industry standards that contains administrative, technical and physical safeguards to ensure the security and confidentiality of records that contain personal information. Entities that electronically store or transmit personal information also must include their program: establishment and maintenance of a security system covering its computers and wireless systems, including secure user authentication protocols, secure access control measures, encryption (under certain circumstances), monitoring, firewalls, operating system patches, up-to-date security system software and education and training. Whether an entity is compliant will be evaluated based on the size, scope and type of the business of the entity, how much resources the entity has, how much data it stores and the need for security and confidentiality of the information.

If a survey researcher is located in Massachusetts or “owns, licenses, stores or maintains” personal information of Massachusetts residents, that researcher will be subject to the terms and conditions of this law.

Congress - Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX-26) introduced H.Con.Res. 425, expressing the sense of Congress regarding the need to pass meaningful legislation to protect commercial and government data from data breaches. This would be a non-binding resolution and poses no negative impact for the profession.

FTC Reauthorization
Congress - Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced the "Federal Trade Reauthorization Act" (S. 2831), which would massively expand the scope, power and authority of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). While the legislation will not see action this year, MRA is very concerned about potential negative implications for the survey and opinion research profession. For more information, look for “Super-sizing Regulation: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Will Be in Your Face” in the December issue of the MRA Alert!.

Human Subjects Research
Congress - Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO-01) introduced the "Protection for Participants in Research Act" (H.R. 7140), which would apply the “human subject” protections under the Common Rule (45 CFR Part 46) to all research involving human subjects, including survey and opinion research. Currently, the Common Rule only applies to research funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other federal agencies that have adopted the HHS regulations, but not to private research. H.R. 7140 would apply the Common Rule to any human subject research “conducted, supported, or otherwise subject to regulation under a provision of Federal law” or “has activities that are in or that affect interstate commerce.” Although this legislation is not likely to be acted upon, MRA is opposed to H.R. 7140 because it would drastically alter the regulatory environment for survey and opinion research, making it more complex and cumbersome to conduct.

Political Calls
NJ - Assemblymen Milam (D) and Albano (D) have introduced A.B. 3257, which would prohibit unsolicited political telephone calls inducing a public solicitation or encouraging donations of volunteer time or some other benefit to a political organization or political candidate. Solicitation or benefit would not include research-related activities, so this legislation presents no obvious threat to the research profession.

Congress - In line with the latest request from MRA and our coalition allies, the Continuing Resolution agreed to at the end of September appropriated $2.9 billion for preparations for the decennial Census in Fiscal Year 2009, up from $1.3 billion in 2008.

Congress – Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-14) introduced the "Restoring the Integrity of American Statistics Act" (H.R. 7069), which would elevate the Census Bureau to the status of an Independent Agency in the federal government hierarchy and outside of the Commerce Department. The bill would take effect in January 2012 after completion of the 2010 Decennial Census so as not to interfere with preparations. It would also set a five-year term for the new Director by nomination of the President and confirmation by the Senate, and establish a new independent Census Inspector General. MRA has yet to take a position on this legislation and the Government Affairs Committee will discuss it shortly.

Vietnam – Vietnam has issued a “Decree on anti-spam mail.” Organizations and individuals who send unsolicited commercial e-mail and text messages, trade in e-mail addresses, or deliver software products that collect e-mail addresses, may be fined up to VND80 million (US$5,000) by the Ministry of Information and Communications.

Telemarketing, etc.
Congress – Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-02) introduced the "Senior Financial Empowerment Act" (H.R. 6954), which would combat mail, telemarketing and Internet fraud targeting seniors in the United States, attempt to educate the public, seniors, their families and their caregivers about how to identify and combat fraudulent activity. This legislation should pose no negative impact on the profession.

Travel Research
Congress - "The Travel Promotion Act" (H.R. 3232) passed the House on September 25 and now awaits action in the Senate. It would, among other purposes, expand funding for travel research in connection with the promotion of international travel to the U.S., including “expanding access to the official Mexican travel surveys data to provide the States with traveler characteristics and visitation estimates for targeted marketing programs” and “revising the Commerce Department's Survey of International Travelers questionnaire and report formats to accommodate a new survey instrument, expanding the respondent base, improving response rates and improving market coverage.” This legislation is primarily for the purposes of travel promotion, rather than research. MRA’s Government Affairs Committee decided in July 2007 that MRA should not be advocating for money for specific sectors of research. As a result, MRA will not be taking a position on H.R. 3232 (or its Senate companion, S.1661).