• Online
    • Minors Online
    • Online Behavioral Tracking
  • Privacy
    • Data Security
    • Financial Privacy
    • Identity Theft
    • Offshore Data Security
    • Social Security Numbers
  • Public Opinion Polls
  • Tax/Budget
    • Cellular Phone Taxes
    • State Taxes on Research
    • Census Funding
  • Sales
    • Junk Mail
    • Do Not Call

Current Legislation

Minors Online
Congress - The Senate passed the “Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act” (S. 1965) on May 28, a bill that would require an Internet safety public awareness campaign, help identify and develop content-control technologies for parents and require schools receiving E-Rate funding to educate schoolchildren about appropriate online behavior. The bill would also increase fines to as much as $200,000 for Internet service providers (ISPs) who fail to report online child pornography violations. This bill is a modified version of S. 49 (see the August 07 Legislative Update). CMOR supports the goals of S. 1965, which poses no negative implications for the research profession.

Online Behavioral Tracking
MA-Rep. Straus (D) introduced H.B. 4822, which would allow users to opt-out of certain data collection mechanisms on web sites. The legislation also requires web sites to provide notice of what data is collected and provide specific data security for users who do not opt-out. The legislation also limits third-party advertisers to accessing tracking data no longer than 24 months after it is collected. This bill is drafted similarly to the New York and Connecticut-now dead legislation on behavioral tracking (see the May 08 Legislative Update). CMOR will follow up with the sponsor accordingly to amend this bill in its early stages.

Data Security
Congress – The House passed the "Federal Agency Data Protection Act" (H.R. 4791) on June 3. This bill would strengthen required Federal agency information security controls, implement annual audits, develop procedures for data breach notification, and seek to protect personally identifiable information of individuals that is maintained in or transmitted by federal agency information systems. This bill should have minimal impact on the survey and opinion research profession since it is focused on the internal workings of federal government agencies – although it may ultimately require greater data security on the part of federal contractors. CMOR will soon provide for Shield readers, a detailed analysis and cross-comparison of the many conflicting data security bills in Congress.

OK - Gov. C. Brad Henry signed H.B. 2245 into law. Known as the “Security Breach Notification Act”, the law extends the previous breach notification law (which applied only to government agencies) to require notification from private individuals, businesses, and other entities that own or license computerized data that includes the personal information of Oklahoma residents.  The law is effective November 1, 2008. Survey and opinion researchers are required to comply with the law.

Financial Privacy
Federal - The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed rules to expand Regulation S-P, the agency’s implementation of the Gramm Leach Bliley (GLB) Act Privacy and Safeguard rules, and the Fair and Accurate Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). These proposed rules bring the regulatory expectations for entities subject to SEC jurisdiction into line with the expectations for entities overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The proposed rules should not significantly change the impact of GLB and FCRA on the survey and opinion research profession.

Identity Theft
Congress - Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA-29) introduced the “Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act” (H.R. 6060), which would expand and make more severe criminal penalties for crimes involving identity theft, spyware, and other cyber-crimes. This bill would have no negative impact on the research profession.

Offshore Data Security
Congress - The U.S. Department of Justice and Department of State have voiced their official opposition to the Global Online Freedom Act (H.R. 275), which has been awaiting action in the full House of Representatives, but will now likely die. H.R. 275 would prohibit U.S. businesses from locating any data containing personally identifiable information (PII) within an “Internet-restricting country.” The bill would also prohibit U.S. businesses from providing PII “to any foreign official of any Internet-restricting country,” except for legitimate law enforcement purposes. Violations could result in civil and criminal penalties, as well as private rights of action in U.S. courts, “without regard to the citizenship of the parties.” In addition to businesses being held liable, every “officer, director, employee, agent, or stockholder” of the businesses could be subject to penalties, and fines levied on individuals may not be paid, either directly or indirectly, by the business itself. For further details about H.R. 275, see the September 07, December 07 and April 08 Legislative updates.

Social Security Numbers
CT - Governor Jodi Rell signed H.B. 5658 into law, requiring persons collecting social security numbers in the course of business to create a “privacy protection policy” to (a) protect the confidentiality of the social security numbers, (b) prohibit the unlawful disclosure thereof, and (c) limit access to the social security numbers.  The privacy protection policy must be publicly displayed.  The law also requires that "any person in possession of personal information of another person” safeguard the data, computer files and documents containing the information from misuse by third parties and destroy, erase or make unreadable the data, computer files and documents prior to disposal.  “Personal information” is defined as information capable of being associated with a particular individual through one or more identifiers, including a social security number driver’s license number, state identification card number, account number, credit or debit card number, passport number, alien registration number or health insurance identification number. The new law applies to all businesses that obtain social security numbers, including survey and opinion researchers.

Public Opinion Polls
NY - Assemblyman Molinaro (R) has introduced A.B. 11242 to amend the election law regarding public opinion polls released to the general public. The new measure would require candidates, political parties or committees for any campaign for nomination or election to disclose the results of a poll relating to the candidate within five business days after the poll is released to the general public. The following information would also have to be provided to the board or officer responsible for campaign receipts and expenditures, filed for a period of one year:

  1. The name of the person, party or organization that contracted for or commissioned the poll and/or paid for it;
  2. The name and address of the organization that conducted the poll;
  3. The numerical size of the total poll sample, the geographic area covered by the poll and any special characteristics of the population included in the poll sample;
  4. The exact wording of the questions asked in the poll and the sequence of such questions;
  5. The method of polling, whether by personal interview, telephone, mail or other;
  6. The time period during which the poll was conducted; and
  7. The number of persons in the poll sample.

CMOR will be in contact with Assemblyman Molinaro about A.B. 11242 and will collaborate with other associations to determine the full impact of the legislation and how CMOR should seek to amend it.

Cellular Phone Taxes
Congress – Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-16) introduced the “Cell Tax Fairness Act” (H.R. 5793), which would establish a five-year moratorium on new discriminatory state and local taxes on wireless service.  The bill does not change current state and local taxes on wireless service, but prevents the imposition of new discriminatory tax increases on wireless service. Currently, typical consumers pay 15.19 % of their wireless bill in federal, state, and local taxes, fees and charges, compared to 7.07% for other goods and services. Between January 2003 and July 2007, the effective rate of taxation on wireless service increased four times faster than the rate for other taxable goods and services. Because of the ultimate negative impact on cooperation with cellular phone respondents, CMOR supports this legislation.

Census Funding
Congress – On June 12, the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce-Justice-State Subcommittee approved $2.6 billion for the Census Bureau for Fiscal Year 2009. This proposed funding does NOT include the extra amount required to transition to a paper-based non-response-follow-up system for the 2010 census, as CMOR has previously requested.
State Taxes on Research
A National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) report states that declining tax revenue has led to budget deficits for fiscal year 2008 in 16 states and Puerto Rico, with additional states expected to be in the red for fiscal year 2009. According to NCSL's April 2008 state budget update, both personal income tax and sales tax revenue has not met expectations in 16 states and was below estimates in nine states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, Rhode Island and Virginia. Twenty-three states might have budget deficits in 2009 totaling over $26 billion. States looking for new revenue sources to meet budget demands often turn their attention toward taxing services, like consulting or information services.

Junk Mail
Congress - Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY-05) introduced the “Solicitation Disclosure Act” (H.R. 5895), which would require that “any unsolicited commercial offer that is sent to an individual through the mails shall contain, on the outside of such solicitation, a notice to the recipient. Such notice shall be in a large, clear, and bold typeface, in a contrasting color, and in a clear and conspicuous location on the outside envelope containing such solicitation, or in the case of a solicitation that is mailed without an envelope, in a clear and conspicuous location at the top of such solicitation. Such notice shall read `This Is an Unsolicited Commercial Offer From' followed by the name of the person or company making such offer’.” Because survey and opinion research is not commercial in nature, H.R. 5895 would have no negative impact on the research profession.

PA - Rep. Micozzie (R) introduced H.B. 2551, which would prohibit unwanted mail solicitation to Pennsylvania residents whose name and address appears on a state do-not-mail list. The legislation does not define “solicitation”. CMOR assumes the interpretation is limited to sales-related matters only, but CMOR will contact Rep. Micozzie in order to determine the intent behind H.B. 2551and avoid any impact on the survey research profession.

Do Not Call
LA - Sen. Hebert (D) has introduced S.B. 431, which would amend the state do not call law to include cellular telephone numbers to the state do not call list. The legislation also prohibits any telephone sales calls between the hours of 5 P.M. and 8 A.M. The legislation applies solely to telephone solicitations and does not present any negative implications for survey and opinion researchers conducting legitimate survey research.