Bj’s 30 Years in 30 Days—June 21 Not Above the Law

  Bj Kirschner      22 June 2022     

The month of June marks my 30th Anniversary in market research. Since 30 days hath June and I love a good countdown, I have decided to do a Market Research Thought of the Day each day in June. Enjoy! Bj bj@just-worldwide.com

Bj’s 30 Years in 30 Days—June 21 Not Above the Law

I love the law, I love compliance.  It’s fascinating.  I’m a dork.

I also realize I’m in the minority, especially since rules and regulations to which market research is subject have changed dramatically in my three decades (so far).

When I started, HIPAA was not even on the books.  GDPR was more than 20 years in the future, the first EURO had not even been printed.  Here in New York City, office buildings did not have smoking bans until 2003.  The number of times I had to keep a room of smokers as far away from a room of doctors discussing COPD, too high to count.

Every time a big law affects market research, the pattern is the same, and that’s a good thing.  First, we get everybody wondering what it will mean for us, some companies try to set policies ahead of the curve, the date for compliance comes, we all make changes while we wait for industry organizations to set best practices and then we adapt.  We are in the business of figuring out problems and asking lots of questions, so we handle it better than most industries.

When HIPAA emerged to protect sensitive medical information in the mid-1990s, it was misunderstood by most Americans in general.  It still is.  Like many laws, one does not see the impact unless one is in a situation where its power is obvious. 

HIPAA and LOI Bertrand in France and others seem to be aimed at healthcare, but they have helped us all be more careful about how we process personal information.  Industry-wide, we take the strictest countries’ rules and made them universal.  Though plenty of details are still questionable, by the time GDPR came around, we were all prepared.  We were already protecting personal information and healthcare information.

Well, how about Adverse Events?  Yeah, that’s a biggie.  It became official in the early 2000s.  It seems to me that we are always chasing the rules as opposed to adapting as we do to the others.  That is hardly surprising.  The pharmaceutical companies explain what an adverse event is on paper very well, but now and then a recruiter or an interviewer or someone else in contact with respondents will miss and AE or feel that an AE was not discovered.  But the law is the law and we all benefit from it.

Here at Just Worldwide, we have our own internal compliance department with multiple employees dedicated to making sure we understand and follow all policies.  Given the fact that we have offices in eight separate countries (at the moment) and do work in all of the others, that’s a mighty big job!

I cannot even guess what the landscape of laws will look like for market research in the next 30 years, but we will adapt as we always do!


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