NEWS21 May 2009

Agencies hit out at German data bill


Researchers ‘don't need to be told how to handle personal data’

GERMANY— Researchers at a German media conference have criticised proposed changes to Germany’s data protection laws, which they say would make much of their work impossible.

Manfred Güllner, chief executive of research agency Forsa, said that data protection has always had a high priority in research, and that the lack of any major data scandals in the industry shows that researchers don’t need to be told by government how to handle personal information.

The new rules would require a person’s consent before their data could be used for marketing or research purposes. The Ministry of Interior said this came in response to cases of people’s data being passed from company to company without their permission, but researchers say it would prevent them from using random samples for telephone or door-to-door research, making much legitimate research impossible.

Güllner said he feared “the worst” if politicians did not take into account the needs of research and make amendments to the law.

Richard Hilmer of Infratest Dimap was more optimistic, agreeing that the law posed a serious threat, but saying that politicians had been open to comments from the industry.

The pair – who recently clashed over comments made by Güllner regarding the integrity of Infratest Dimap’s political research – were speaking at the Medientreffpunkt Mitteldeutschland event in Leipzig earlier this month.

Author: Robert Bain

Related links:

German bill ‘a danger to research’ – ADM

German researchers seek exemption from data protection law