This article reviews a study from the Global Research Business Network that examines attitudes toward the (ab)use of personal data by domestic governments, search engines, social media firms and mobile phone operators.
While I’ve long felt that the research industry does a solid job of safeguarding and respecting respondent privacy, it’s clear from a recent study that we need to do a better job of calling attention to those efforts.
The study, conducted by the Global Research Business Network, an organization that encompasses 38 national research associations (including CASRO, MRS, EFAMRO, etc.) and over 3,500 research businesses on five continents, is based on a survey of over 2,000 individuals. It examined attitudes toward the (ab)use of personal data by domestic governments, search engines, social media firms and mobile phone operators.
On average, 31 percent of U.S. and U.K. citizens do not trust their government with their personal data. Although people are reasonably familiar with how personal data is collected and used, there is still a high level of concern: 45 percent of U.S. citizens and 40 percent of people living in the U.K. say they are very concerned about how their data is used.
Across U.S. and U.K. citizens, 38 percent said they had no trust in how Internet search engines such as Google and Bing are using their data, 53 percent of people said they had no trust in social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter and 41 percent said they didn’t trust market research companies.
That last number makes it “clear that the market research sector needs to more effectively demonstrate its commitment to protecting personal privacy,” said Andrew Cannon, president of EFAMRO, the European part of the Global Research Business Network, in a press statement.
“As a global network which seeks to promote and advance the position of research, GRBN, along with regional federations and national associations, has vowed to work hard to significantly improve the level of trust by strengthening self-regulation and supporting trust marks such as Fair Data,” said Diane Bowers, president of CASRO, in a press statement.
Based on the study findings, the GRBN offers three marching orders for our industry. MR must: respect the rights of MR participants; provide full transparency for how respondent data is obtained and used in the research process (by giving clear explanations, obtaining explicit consent and giving respondents the “right to be forgotten”); and promote the industry’s ethical behavior.
(The GRBN effort, based on an original study conducted in Finland by CBI Cannon Business Insight, was conducted online between February 6-9 2014 by Research Now and includes data from 1,020 U.K. interviews and 1,015 U.S. interviews [weighted to be representative of the population aged 18+ in each country].)