The Data Protection Act 1998 is the key piece of legislation that all researchers need to understand. The Act impacts every aspect of the research process.

The Data Protection Act 1998 governs the collection and processing personal data - information about identifiable people.

Our Guidelines cover every step of the research process, from commissioning and design of research, though interviewing and data processing to reporting of findings and storage and destruction of data, helping researchers and their clients stay within the law.

This material is provided for information only. It is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice should be taken in relation to specific issues.

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 cover the use of unsolicited emails and text messages, and require consent for the use of “cookies” by websites.

MRS has developed detailed guidance on the application of this legislation to market social and opinion research.

Guidelines on the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003

Privacy and electronic communications: some key points
  • Unsolicited emails or SMS for marketing purposes cannot be sent without prior consent.
  • Sample for telephone marketing must be screened against the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
  • There are exemptions for existing relationships.
  • Emails, SMS and telephone calls for research purposes are unaffected.
  • Consent required for use of cookies on websites since May 2011.
Monitoring interviews

Some frequently asked questions on RIPA 2000 (The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000).

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to information held by, or on behalf of, public authorities.

Research organisations may find themselves drawn into Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) issues in two ways.

Firstly they may have provided information to a public authority. This may be included in tender documents, contacts or research reports. Secondly they may hold information on behalf of the public authority. It may be the case that contractually any work product is the property of the public authority client or that the researcher holds the sole copy of a research report paid for by the public authority.

Our guidelines and FAQ provide detailed advice on the operation of FOIA, including how to deal with requests, and how to help protect sensitive commercial information.

Freedom of Information Act 2000: Guidance

GDPR - helping you get ready

We have developed a range of quick briefings and webinars to help you navigate the new regulation, whether you are an SME or a larger organisation.

See our GDPR support


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