I had one--thankfully, just one--experience similar to Peter Klein's.
So, even social-science researchers must receive IRB training and have individual research projects — yes, every research project that involves “human subjects,” which includes research using secondary data — approved by the campus IRB.
The data I used had already been gathered and was completely anonymous. There was a probability lower than the sun will go supernova tomorrow that anything I did with the data would harm, or even offend, the subjects. But I had to jump through IRB hoops. It's as if stupid people are running our government and universities.
Follow the links to see some IRB test questions at the University of Missouri. Yikes. I've studied for those tests and trembled when I thought research with secondary data would be subject to IRB approval, but we're not there yet. Our IRB has even gotten better the past couple of years. It takes me about 5 minutes to fill out the form and about 2 days for the survey project to obtain exempt status.
I wonder what it takes to get approval to tell people they must grow a mustache?