Media release

MARKET RESEARCH INDUSTRY CRACKS DOWN ON ‘SHONKY’ BEHAVIOUR

The Association of Market and Social Research Organisations (AMSRO) today launched a new digital platform ‘Phish of the Day’ (www.amsro.com.au/phishing) to highlight fake or illegitimate research activities to the public.

“AMSRO believes it is incumbent on the market and social research industry in Australia to take a more proactive stance in order to protect the public from unscrupulous operators, if we are to expect ongoing co-operation from the public, whose opinions are the lifeblood of our industry,” said Craig Young, AMSRO President.

“The recent Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal and the Banking Royal Commission’s findings of misconduct, both send a clear signal that trust and accountability are central issues for the general public and company leaders.  And, whilst our member organisations take every possible precaution to protect consumer data and are bound to act in an ethical manner, unfortunately, fraudulent activity occasionally targets research companies.

“Our new ‘Phish of the Day’ site is designed to work with member organisations, the public and regulators to protect people’s personal information and member companies’ reputations by targeting ‘shonky’ operators to ensure that Australians can feel confident when they provide their opinions on the matters that affect them,” Young said.

A majority of fake research is undertaken to sell products or services (referred to in the industry as ‘sugging’).  Phish of the Day enables AMSRO members as well as the general public, to report any scams or non-genuine market and social research activities to the Association.  These might include telemarketing or sales activity masquerading as face to face, telephone or online interviews. AMSRO will then investigate any reported non-genuine research conduct and, depending on the severity and nature of the issue, may attempt to work with the organisation to improve their operational practices so they comply with relevant legislation; or report them to relevant federal or State/Territory regulatory or enforcement bodies. AMSRO also has the power to discipline its own member companies for inappropriate research conduct, including expulsion for serious offences.

AMSRO member companies have a long and successful track record in safeguarding respondent data and continue to conduct legitimate research working under strict privacy rules that protect confidentiality and prohibit any selling.  In 15 years of operating under Australia’s first and only Industry-specific Privacy Code, AMSRO members have not had a single breach upheld.

Personal information for market and social research (conducted by AMSRO member organisations) is collected only with consent and under strict codes and practices. This includes a registered privacy code and an industry Trust Mark’– a seal of endorsement that assures business and government organisations they are buying research that is quality-tested and meets not only ethical standards but also goes over and above minimal privacy legislation.

Members working under the industry Trust Mark:

  1. Work under Australia’s first and only registered Australian Privacy Principles (APP) Industry Privacy Code, enshrined in Australian law
  2. Have an independent annual audit for ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) certification
  3. Adhere to the Industry Code of Ethics.

Research plays an important role in society with surveys often used to identify and measure community knowledge, attitudes and behaviours, which then inform government policy and commercial business decisions.   AMSRO member organisations are very aware that any business handling personal information needs to be conducted by experienced and trusted users of data. Phish of the Day builds on the safeguards already established by AMSRO to ensure Australians ‘have a voice’ in matters that affect them.

About AMSRO

The Association of Market & Social Research Organisations (AMSRO) is the peak body for the market and social research industry. AMSRO works in partnership with its market research company members, plus privacy authorities, business, government and the community to protect and promote the industry and uphold the highest ethical and privacy market and social research standards. Since its establishment in 1989, AMSRO has grown to more than 90 members, employing over 5,000 people, representing 75% of the industry’s annual turnover.  In 2003, AMSRO pioneered its own privacy code for members which won an Australian Privacy Award in 2009.  www.amsro.com.au