CMOR submits the following comments regarding the upcoming FTC Town Hall, "Beyond Voice: Mapping the Mobile Marketplace".

CMOR is a non-profit trade association representing the whole survey and opinion research profession, including political pollsters, market researchers, big client companies, small data collectors, other associations, academic institutions, and even government agencies. Our association seeks to improve respondent cooperation and promote and protect survey and opinion research in law and legislation.

CMOR pursues investigations into abuses of the research process and actively participates in consumer awareness campaigns. We seek to protect researchers’ access to information, while balancing the need for information with the privacy rights of the public. As an advocate for individual privacy, CMOR also seeks to protect consumers from harassment and unwanted spam and telemarketing.

Survey and opinion research is the process of acquiring opinions from the public. Researchers seek to determine the public’s opinion regarding products, issues, candidates and other topics. Such information is used to develop new products, improve services, influence policy, and is also used by health care providers, airlines, private businesses and others.

How is research different from sales-related activities? Researchers measure public opinions of services or products or social and political issues. Conversely, telemarketers and other sales-related activities attempt to sell goods or services to the public. Researchers never ask for money or attempt to sell products or services.

Moreover, sales or solicitation is not acceptable or permitted in legitimate and professionally-conducted survey and opinion research and, if conducted via telephone, would be in violation of the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule (15 U.S.C. 6101).

CMOR is not aware of any researchers currently using SMS and text messaging for research purposes, but believes that the medium may be conducive to the recruitment of survey respondents or for research satisfaction/customer satisfaction survey purposes. CMOR cautions our membership that case law remains murky on the legality of sending most such messages using any automated mechanism.

CMOR is eager to see the results of this meeting in order to help craft best practice guidelines for the survey and opinion research profession in an emerging technological arena, such as how to manage proper disclosures in mobile messages.

Respectfully submitted,
Howard Fienberg
Director of Government Affairs
CMOR: Promoting & Advocating Survey & Opinion Research

See the original CMOR letter on the FTC website.