AMSRO's privacy code first to be recognised by privacy commissioner

The Association of Market and Social Research Organisations also launched Trust Mark to recognise companies adhering to its privacy code

The Association of Market and Social Research Organisations’ (AMSRO) new privacy code has become the first to gain the tick of approval under the Australian Privacy Principles (APP).

The Privacy (Market and Social Research) Code 2014 is the first and only registered privacy code under the legislated Australian privacy standards, which were introduced in March this year. The principles mandate when an individual’s information can be used for direct marketing or be sent overseas. Penalties for failing to comply by the new laws can hit $1.7 million.

AMSRO has been working on the new code since March, which supersedes its privacy code first put in place in 2003. They set out how the APPs in the Privacy Act are to be applied and complied with by members in collecting, retaining, using, disclosing and destroying personal information in market and social research.

The association has also launched the ‘Trust Mark’ recognising member organisations who meet the highest ethical standards set by the new code. To qualify, members must demonstrate adherence to the privacy code, as well as the Australian Market and Social Research Society’s Code of Professional Behaviour. They must also be certified under the International Standard for Market, Opinion and Social Research (ISO 20252).

AMSRO said 80 companies are working under the Trust Mark so far.

In addition, a Privacy Compliance Committee has been formed, chaired by former Tasmanian senator, Terry Aulich, who first recommended a national Privacy Act and was involved in developing the new code.

AMSRO president, Nicola Hepenstall, said registration of its code was the final step in ensuring the highest ethical and privacy standards in the industry.

“Our code is a roadmap for members and critical in terms of consumer trust and voluntary cooperation in research, plus industry self-regulation,” she said. “It is a significant milestone to be the first registered APP privacy code in the country and it sets a clear benchmark of good practice.

“Our industry is unique because AMSRO members are co-regulated under the privacy code with AMSRO as the administrator, and the Privacy Commissioner as the adjudicator of the Code. The fact that we have a 10-year record without a finding of a privacy breach demonstrates the success of AMSRO in protecting the industry and people who engage in market and social research.”

Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, was also pleased to have worked with AMSRO in the development of the code.

“This is a significant step that highlights the value of co-regulatory schemes under the Privacy Act and it demonstrates the importance of privacy for the marketing and social research industry,” he said in a statement.

The two pointed to research undertaken by the Australian Privacy Commissioner last year, which found 60 per cent of Australians decided not to deal with an organisation because of concerns about privacy.

ADMA CEO, Jodie Sangster, saw AMSRO’s new privacy code as welcome news for marketers, saying it is a positive step for consumers and will ensure all market research is conducted to the highest standards.

“Market research does impact on the data-driven marketing industry because it is often used as a first step to understand an audience for products and services or to benchmark brand penetration or perception,” she noted.

“As market research is an area where researchers do a lot of telephone work, it is easy to lead to consumer discontent if not done within industry best practice. This code goes some way to making sure these standards are implemented and adhered to by all sections of the industry.

“We applaud AMSRO for producing a code to the highest ethical and privacy standards in its industry.” Brand-side marketers were also supportive of the new code and AMSRO’s Trust Mark.

“The AMSRO Trust Mark is a reassurance that we are working with legitimate, ethical research professionals and that the research is conducted with the highest ethical and quality standards,” Westfield director of marketing, John Batistich, said.

AGL manager of insights, Stephen Paton, added the Trust Mark was an easy way of demonstrating the credentials of research suppliers he recommends to his non-research colleagues.

“I can assure them we are buying research from an ethical company that stands up to regular and independent auditing and one with stringent operational policies,” he said.

“We can be sure AGL will be represented in a highly professional manner and that we can rely on the results that we receive.”

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