Adapting Your Privacy Policy for New Visual Technologies

By the Editors

The increasing prevalence of video recordings and facial recognition software in the realm of market research has led to evolving needs for privacy policies. In a recent webinar, SSI General Counsel Ashlin Quirk addressed some of the unique issues facing market researchers using rich media—such as video and photos—in their research. How can market research firms update their privacy policies to incorporate the latest visual technologies? What are the forthcoming issues they need to be aware of?

Rich Media: Changing the Privacy Landscape

As mobile devices, webcams, and other technology innovations make it easier to record videos and take photos as part of research studies, this opens new avenues for data collection. However, it also raises a series of emerging concerns firms must be aware of. While the legal regulations in this area are still developing, it’s important to remember that privacy, cyber-security, and data protection are under a global microscope. Failure to be aware of the trends and regulations can lead to more onerous regulations, brand damage, and expensive fines.

At a high level, when dealing with personally identifiable information (including photos and videos), regulators expect companies to:

  • Collect the minimal data necessary for the task
  • Be transparent about what’s being collected and how it will be used
  • Get permission from consumers for data usage and honor their wishes
  • Have clear privacy policies and terms, and share them with consumers

Specific Considerations for Visual Media in Market Research

As global data protections advance, it’s important to remember that a person’s image—including videos—is considered personal information in some countries. There are several factors which are important to consider when developing your privacy policy and disclosure process around data collection and studies.

  • Participants including other individuals in their footage. It’s important to note that your instructions should include guidance to participants about only filming themselves. Individuals do not have the right to include images of other people in the footage they share with you, whether those people are other shoppers in a retail setting, or family and friends who happen to be nearby when participants are filming at home.
  • Locations—and their owners—must also be considered. Are your users filming in a location such as a store or a restaurant? Consider the case of mystery shopping. Often, the owner or manager of a location has rights regarding what can be filmed on the premises of their business. Employees also have right to be notified if they will be filmed or videotaped at work.
  • Who will see the footage? For market researchers, it’s important to disclose who will see the footage. For example, in addition to members of your own team, will the footage or details be accessible to vendors or partners? Will footage be shown to the end-client or customer who is funding the research? Who within the company is likely to see it? Would there be any scenarios where their partners or customers could be shown the images?
  • Promotional or outside usage plans. It’s important to disclose any additional outside or promotional plans for the images. For example, could the client plan to use images or footage in their advertising or on their website, or as part of a social campaign? Will your agency display the footage during a trade show or commercial marketing event to showcase your capabilities? All intended incidents of outside usage should be disclosed.

For market researchers, new and enhanced data gathering technologies are quickly expanding the capacity to conduct important research. However, there are various regulations and trends around privacy consideration which must be evaluated when taking advantage of these advancements.

Take the time to understand what’s in place now, as well as what is likely to be forthcoming in terms of regulations. The need to prioritize privacy and data management for all types of information—especially for rich media—is critical to your success. Invest now in understanding your obligations, putting a legal process in place, updating your research design strategies, reviewing privacy policies and disclosures, and ensuring your partners comply with best practices, to help protect your business against future challenges.

Do you have questions about legal considerations in market research and the evolving field? Sign up to watch our webinar today to learn more!