• Online
    • Phishing
    • Spyware
    • Cyber-Crime
  • Privacy
    • Identity Theft
    • Financial Privacy
    • Public Records
    • Student PII
    • Selling of Telephone Records
  • Telephone
    • Caller ID
    • Push Polls/Political Telemarketing
  • Sales
    • Do Not Call/Telephone Solicitation
    • Junk Faxes
  • Taxes

Current Legislation

MT has passed H.B. 630 into law, which prohibits persons from using false misrepresentations, via the Internet or e-mail, to induce others to provide identifying information.

Congress – On June 6th the House passed the SPY Act (H.R. 964) by a 368-48 vote.

Congress – The House introduced the Cyber-Security Enhancement Act (H.R. 2290). The bill would outlaw “botnet” attacks and authorize increased penalties for and increased funding to combat a variety of crimes committed using computers. Botnets are collections of secretly compromised computers running malicious programs, such as worms, or “trojan horses,” under a common command and control infrastructure. None of the activities outlined in H.R. 2290 would include survey and opinion research. As a result, this legislation should have no restrictive impact on the research profession.

Congress – The House passed H.Res. 455 on June 12, 2007, a resolution (a non-enforceable statement of policy, belief or appreciation) supporting the goals and ideals of Internet Safety Month. The resolution calls on safety organizations, law enforcers, educators, community members, parents and volunteers to increase the level of awareness for online safety.

Identity Theft
Congress – The Senate Commerce Committee passed the Identity Theft Prevention Act (S. 1178) and the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act (S. 495). S. 1178 would require businesses, organizations, and federal agencies to maintain and protect sensitive personal information and to notify consumers of a data breach when there is a “reasonable risk” of identity theft. S. 495 would require business entities to report data breaches when data “reasonably believed” to have been accessed or acquired. CMOR will be providing an extensive analysis of federal data breach legislation in the August CMOR Shield.

Congress – The House Energy & Commerce Committee passed the Social Security Number Protection Act (H.R. 948) on May 10, 2007. The Act would outlaw the sale or purchase of a social security number, punishable by an $11,000 per-incident fine, capped at $5 million. H.R. 948 includes a specific exemption for “research conducted for the purpose of advancing public knowledge, on the condition that the researcher provides adequate assurances that -- (i) the Social Security numbers will not be used to harass, target, or publicly reveal information concerning any identifiable individuals; (ii) information about identifiable individuals obtained from the research will not be used to make decisions that directly affect the rights, benefits, or privileges of specific individuals; and (iii) the researcher has in place appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy and confidentiality of any information about identifiable individuals.” CMOR will be communicating with the sponsor's office for clarification of the scope of this exemption. H.R. 948 now awaits action in the House Ways & Means Committee (where a similar version of the bill died in the last Congress).

Financial Privacy
MO introduced H.B. 1248, which prohibits any person or entity from displaying or posting financial information over the Internet, unless the entity or individual whose information is being posted provides consent. This would apply to all parties that seek to post financial information, including the survey research profession.

Congress – The Financial Privacy Notice Relief Act (H.R. 1967) would amend the Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) Act to provide an exception from the requirement for annual privacy notices for those financial institutions that do not share personal information with affiliates and have not changed their policies since the last notice. CMOR supports this legislation’s premise in order to help avoid what the Census Bureau refers to as the “blah blah blah” effect (where respondents’ eyes glaze over at reading the same old privacy policy for the hundredth time).

Public Records
NE has passed L.B. 389 into law. This new law excludes student personal records, medical records, trade secrets, attorney work product records, law enforcement records, appraisals, public property security records, public personnel records, lottery security standards, legislative telephone records, citizen utility records, public job applications, and social security numbers, from the definition of “public records.” Non-public records are not subject to disclosure unless the information has been publicly disclosed in open court.

Student PII
IL has passed H.B. 1559 into law, creating policies for the collection and use of student biometric information for school districts.

TN has passed H.B. 2237 into law, requiring all Tennessee students to be assigned a personal identification number, in order to keep track of students from school to school. This law does not apply to colleges or universities.

TX has passed S.B. 123 into law, prohibiting a municipality from disclosing information obtained from a recreational program or activity about a minor (defined as younger than 18 years of age). This information includes: the name, age, home address, home telephone number, or social security number of the minor, a photograph of the minor, and the name of the minor’s parent or legal guardian.

Selling of Telephone Records
TX has passed H.B. 743 and ND has adopted S.B. 2255. Both new laws prohibit the trading and selling of telephone and wireless communication records for fraudulent purposes without the customer’s consent.

Caller ID
Congress – The House passed the Truth in Caller ID Act (H.R. 251) on June 12. H.R. 251 would prohibit the transmission of misleading or inaccurate caller identification information, with the intent to defraud or cause harm. Although legitimate survey research calls appear to be outside the scope of this legislation, H.R. 251 also would request that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revisit the TCPA rules, and consider preventing non-commercial entities that use “misleading or inaccurate” caller identification information from placing recorded or artificial voice calls to residential lines without prior consent. CMOR staff will be working with staff in the Senate to protect the interests of the survey research profession. A future edition of the CMOR Shield will also outline some best practices for the profession in utilizing Caller ID.

Political Calls
Congress – The Push Poll Disclosure Act (H.R. 1298) would require anyone conducting a “Federal election poll by telephone or electronic device” to disclose to respondents at the end of the interview the “identity of the person paying the expenses of the poll.” The Act would also require, in cases where “the results are not to be made public,” a report to the Federal Election Commission on “the total cost of the poll and all sources of funds for the poll” and “the total number of households contacted,” and include “a copy of the poll questions.” H.R. 1298 defines “Federal election poll” as a survey “in which the respondent is asked to state opinions or views regarding a future election for Federal office” and where more than 1,200 households are surveyed. Since CMOR’s working definition of a legitimate political survey includes a threshold of 1,500 completed calls, CMOR will be contacting the sponsor of the Act to amend the legislation and protect legitimate survey research.

FL has “prefiled” H.B. 13 (meaning that the bill has been filed in advance for consideration in the upcoming state legislative session). This legislation amends the definition of telephone solicitation to include telephone calls made related to a political office or issue using an automated system or a recorded message, to any number on the no sales solicitation list. The law, as currently written, has the potential to include legitimate survey research activities. Since this bill is in its early stages, CMOR will work to either kill the bill or carve an exemption for the survey research profession into this legislation.

Do Not Call/Telephone Solicitation
ME has passed S.B. 655 into law, which refers to the federal do not call registry as the state do not call registry list for Maine. The law applies to telephone solicitations only and does not restrict the activities of the survey research profession.

NY has passed S.B. 3543. This new law prohibits a telemarketer or seller from making an unsolicited telemarketing call to any customer who has been on the federal do not call registry for at least 31 days. The law essentially provides telemarketers a 31 day safe harbor to remove the numbers of New York residents who have recently registered for the federal do not call registry. The law applies to telemarketers and sellers only and has no restrictive implications for the survey research profession.

Congress – H.R. 2601 would extend the authority of the FTC to collect fees to administer and enforce the national Do Not Call Registry through Fiscal Year 2012. The fee schedule is currently scheduled to expire at the end of Fiscal Year 2007. This bill would have no impact on the research profession, because legitimate survey researchers are not required to use the Registry.

Junk Faxes
PA has introduced H.B. 1340, which would prohibit a person from faxing a commercial electronic mail message unless the person has been granted prior express invitation or permission. The legislation would not negatively impact the survey research profession, since it only applies to commercial faxes.

Congress – The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (H.R. 743) would make permanent the moratorium on internet access taxes. The ITFA Extension Act (S. 1453) would extend the moratorium for four more years, along with the “grandfathering” of states that already tax internet access. The existing moratorium expires on November 1, 2007. As a result of limitations in Senate budget rules, Congress will likely renew the moratorium for a set period rather than make it permanent.