23/11/2010 00:00:00

The Council of Europe states that market research surveys are not subject to the draft restrictions it is preparing on profiling techniques.
The aim of the Council of Europe recommendation is to ensure that the collection and processing of data in public and private sectors such as banking, insurance, health, police etc. or carried out with the help of a technique or technology such as smart cards, video surveillance or direct marketing, or relating to a particular category of data (sensitive, biometric, etc.) does not unfairly discriminate against an individual.
It is targeted at “the use of numerous technologies such as web bugs and cookies, which may be used in combination and which, by their very nature, make it possible to observe and trace individuals without their knowledge.”
Some of these techniques and technologies might sound very similar to techniques used by market, social and opinion research. This sector depends on representative samples for its accuracy and in order to maintain the efficiency and quality of samples, the industry regularly employs profiling techniques to identify possible respondents with particular characteristics who have the potential to be included in a representative sample of a population.
The Council of Europe secretariat advised that such activities producing statistical results continue to be regulated by the Recommendation on the protection of personal data collected and processed for statistical purposes dating from 1997.

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