Does commercial market research deserve special exemptions?

In this month’s ESOMAR Research World magazine David Stark, GfK’s VP of Integrity, compliance and privacy for the Americas, has written a great article on W3C’s Do Not Track project (DNT). DNT extends the logic of Do Not Call legislation to the internet. If DNT (Do Not Track) is implemented, which it probably will be, probably next year, then a large part of online passive market research will become impossible. It will also be much harder for website to analyse their visitor and user statistics, which will, in turn, make it harder to optimise their sites and harder to make a living from selling advertising. ESOMAR is involved in the WC3 DNT working group and is making the case that market research should be exempted from the DNT rules (for anonymous market research), just as market research tends to be exempted from DNC (Do Not Call) rules and some provisions of data protection laws. Clearly, defending the role of market research in these discussions is in the financial interests of market research companies and market researchers. However, do we feel that there is a social justification for what we are asking for? In discussing ethics, we probably need to distinguish […]