An early consumer data privacy battle for the insights industry came in 1994 with the federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) (18 U.S. Code, Chapter 123).

Diane Bowers, then executive director of CASRO (a predecessor organization of the Insights Association) and president of CMOR (another group that would later merge with the other IA-predecessor, the Marketing Research Association), noted that the battle resulted in “a specific exemption to permit continued access to DMV records for legitimate automotive research uses.”

The legislation started out "severely" restricting "access to personal information on record with state motor vehicle departments... a valuable resource for research, sampling and other legitimate business purposes. As it stood, the law would have been very harmful to our industry."

A CMOR lobbying campaign to fix the legislation before passage into law as part of the 1994 Clinton crime bill "was a success: Researchers have been granted unrestricted access to DMV records for use in connection with motor vehicle market research activities, including survey research."

Personal information may be disclosed, per § 2721 (b)(5) of the DPPA, "For use in connection with matters of motor vehicle or driver safety and theft; motor vehicle emissions; motor vehicle product alterations, recalls, or advisories; performance monitoring of motor vehicles, motor vehicle parts and dealers; motor vehicle market research activities, including survey research; and removal of non-owner records from the original owner records of motor vehicle manufacturers.

For details and background on the Act, dip into the archives of the journal Marketing Research.