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Help Us Create New Ethics Code For Collecting Consumer Data

Join us for the ARF Town Hall meeting on research ethics on April 26 in NYC

The Data We Need. The Protection They Need.  Partner With Us On How To Achieve Both.

With events regarding consumer data all over the news, what kind of changes are now needed? We need your input, so please join us at this critical ARF Town Hall meeting, dedicated to the establishment of a new industry code of conduct.


Thursday, April 26, 2018; 1:00pm-3:30pm ET


The Advertising Research Foundation

432 Park Avenue South, NYC

or via Livestream

Register Now

We’re an industry with data at its heart; so with recent events in mind, the ARF is spearheading the creation of a new set of industry standards to govern both research data collection and consumer protection.

To kick this initiative off, the ARF and its partner GreenBook are hosting this very important event.  You’ll hear from consumer advocacy groups, experts on GDRP; and even more, you’ll get a chance to voice your opinions in creating new guidelines that deal with the following:

  • What ethical standards should apply to “secondary data?”
  • What are consumers’ rights about approving the uses of their data?
  • What responsibilities do researchers have in protecting consumers from harm that may come from misuse of their data?

Your voice can make a difference, but only if you’re there.

Register Now, space is limited.

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One response to “Help Us Create New Ethics Code For Collecting Consumer Data

  1. Everyone has seen Facebook in the news in recent days. The conversation most everywhere turns around egregious misuse of Facebook users’ personal information. Facebook has been a primary target of this outrage — to a point where some* have wondered if the Facebook business model was no longer viable.

    I’m here to sound a contrarian note about all of this ethical fury. I feel I need to do this because we are in danger of breaking some of the foundational machinery of modern commerce. And we are in danger of doing so without enough reflection about the justification for or consequences of this destruction.

    I should begin by noting that I am a Democrat, voted for Clinton in the last election, and am as unhappy as anyone about the election of Donald Trump. I also think that interference in our election process by a foreign government is a serious international crime which merits collective punishment of the perpetrator. I further think that the collusion of any candidate with such foreign interference, were it to happen, would be tantamount to an act of treason. And conscious empowerment of any of these actions by any American corporation, including Facebook, would also be a crime of considerable magnitude.

    In short, I am am a member of that group of Americans who are most outraged about the results of our last presidential election, and thus someone who should be the most outraged at any organization who may have played a role in bringing those results about.

    But I don’t think that Facebook has a fundamentally flawed business model, and I don’t think the primary issue is privacy. Here is why:

    1. Facebook provides a very considerable bundle of valuable services to its members.
    2. Building, operating and supporting the technology that delivers this value carries a very sizable cost.
    3. Online advertising revenues have heretofor paid for the cost of Facebook technology.
    4. The effectiveness of online advertising, and hence the success of Facebook in selling this advertising, depends upon its capability of “targeting” the consumers Who are the most appropriate recipient of any particular advertising message.
    5. To target advertising, an advertiser needs some kind of personal information about the population from which advertising targets will be selected.
    6. This kind of “targeting” is nothing new. Advertisers targeted us in the past by buying information about the personal characteristics of people who live in particular areas of the country. They targeted by examining the characteristics of viewers of particular television programs, and readers of particular print media. In all of these cases we were treated to some degree as “public” entities. In this sense, one might say we lost our total “privacy” as soon as civilization advanced to the point of mass communication.
    7. It is not at all clear that this targeting is a bad thing Without some access to personal information, an advertiser will be “shooting blind” and the effectiveness of the advertising will drop precipitously. This would inevitably mean more marketing costs for those who produce our products and services (passed along to us). It would also mean a higher volume of advertising thrown at us in the hope of randomly reaching the right audiences.
    8. Facebook is one of many social media organizations that pay for their operations using the sales of targeted advertising. It may be distinctive in the size of the audience it offers to advertisers, and in the breath and depth of information it can make available. But it’s operation model is fundamentally the same as Google, or Twitter, or Instagram, and it is not essentially different from the operational models of NBC
    10. If we really wish social media companies to abandon this business model, we should be prepared either to foot the bill for these technologies out of our pockets, or tolerate a vast expansion of advertising that we encounter on the site

    All of this is not to say Facebook and other social media companies cannot or should not take steps to avoid the debacles of the 2016 elections. And news about their progress in this respect is encouraging. Vetting all political and “issues” content before posting it to ensure it comes from a legitimate source is a very good practice. Publishing the identity of the source of all political or issues content is an equally good practice.

    Perhaps most importantly, thoroughly vetting any organization who gets access to Facebook data, and controlling the uses they can make of this data, should prevent the kinds of illegal practices engaged in during the last election.

    But focusing their outrage on “invasion of privacy”, commentators seem to forget that the very purpose of Facebook is sharing personal information. And when Facebook under takes to sell targeted advertising as its main revenue stream, it must turn to the postings of its members as the only source of the personal information needed for targeting. We can decide we don’t want to share this information (Facebook already allows for this possibility, and after the election debacle is working to make this setting more visible and easy to implement). But if everyone elected to keep everything private Facebook would, as I pointed out, be out of business

    Questioning the basic business model of modern targeted marketing, is a short path toward breaking the machinery of Internet commerce. Without some very radical changes that would almost certainly limit access to the Internet, we need to accept this business model. . People should take a breath and recognize that the real source of their emotional turmoil is the 2016 election.

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