• Privacy
    • Identity Theft
    • Personally Identifiable Information
    • Pretexting
  • Online
    • Phishing
    • Spyware
  • Telephone
    • Automated Dialers
    • Automated Dialers and Political Calls
    • Political Calls
    • Cell Phones
  • Taxes
  • Sales
    • Telephone Solicitation
    • Caller Identification
    • Faxes
    • Spam

Current Legislation

Identity Theft
Congress – The Identity Theft Relief Act (H.R. 1860) would provide a 100 percent income tax deduction for individuals’ expenses related to identity theft. Although a positive gesture for consumers, this legislation is unlikely to move.

Congress – The Social Security Number Fraudulent Use Notification Act (H.R. 1627) would require that the Commissioner of Social Security notify individuals of improper use of their Social Security account numbers. Under the legislation, if an employee’s security number in wage records that is provided to the Social Security Administration by an employer does not match relevant records, or the “account number issued to an individual has otherwise been used by any other person in a fraudulent or otherwise illegal manner,” the Commissioner would be required to “promptly provide” written notification to the individual account holder. This legislation, which would not negatively impact the profession, is not likely to move.

Personally Identifiable Information
CA has amended HB 512 to add medical and health care records, medication, health insurance numbers, and codes to the definition of personally identifiable information for legislative purposes. This updated definition would require persons who maintain this information to follow established security breach procedures regarding personally identifiable information. HB 512 applies to all entities and persons, including the survey research profession.

Congress – The Protecting Consumer Phone Records Act (S. 92) and the Consumer Telephone Records Protection Act (H.R. 852) expand penalties and possible legal recourse for the crime of “pretexting” – using false identities to obtain private telephone records (customer proprietary network information, or CPNI). S. 92 also would enact privacy notification requirements for any listing of “wireless telephone number information” in any directory. For this bill, “wireless telephone number information” means “the telephone number, electronic address, and any other identifying information by which a calling party may reach a commercial mobile services customer, and which is assigned by a commercial mobile service provider to such customer, and includes the name and address of such customer.” Like the federal pretexting law passed last year (Public Law 109-476), neither S. 92 nor H.R. 852 would have much direct impact on the survey research profession, but it is an important issue for the profession to keep apprised of this issue.

MO has introduced SB 650, legislation that prohibits misrepresentation via the internet in order to obtain personally identifiable information. Personally identifiable information has been defined to include the following categories: social security number, driver’s license number, bank account number, credit card or debit card number, personal identification number or PIN, automated or electronic signature, account password, biometrics, or other information that can be used to access an individual’s financial accounts or to obtain goods or services.

Congress – The House Energy & Commerce Committee and the House Judiciary Committee passed competing spyware bills (H.R. 964 and H.R. 1525, respectively). See the related article in this month’s CMOR Shield.

TX introduced SB 1009, which amends the existing spyware law to include computer software, programs, and unsolicited electronic mail in prohibiting the installation of spyware on computers. Spyware is defined as “an intentional misrepresentation to install programs or send an electronic commercial mail messages.” The legislation does not prohibit any legitimate survey research activities.

VA has adopted HB 2353 into law, adding spyware as a crime for computer trespassing. The new law defines spyware to include computer software that logs keystroke information or that damages or disables the use of the computer of another user.

Automated Dialers
ID has adopted HB 223 into law, which requires a live person at the beginning of any automatic dialing announcing device, to disclose the name of the person who the message is for; the purpose of the message; and the contact information of the caller. This law applies to all calls – although under the new law survey researchers are not required to provide any sponsorship information. This law would only require researchers to provide a general informative introduction including the company that is performing the survey, the purpose of the call (which is to perform a survey), and a contact at the company for inquiries.

Automated Dialers / Political Calls
Congress - The Quelling of Unwanted Intrusive and Excessive Telephone Calls Act (H.R. 1383) would provide criminal penalties for violations of existing law regarding autodialers, and establish new penalties for deception in political election calls using an autodialer or artificial or prerecorded voice. The bill establishes fines or 1 year in prison as penalties for calls made without prior consent outside of the 9am to 9pm time frame (local time), or “without disclosing at the beginning of the call the identity of the sponsor, endorser, or originator of the call”. Also, establishes fines or 1 year in prison as penalties for “knowingly” using “an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice to deceive any person regarding”: the time, place or manner of a federal election; voter eligibility for a federal election; a Federal electoral candidate’s political party affiliation; or the “the sponsor, endorser, or originator” of the call. More than 100 call violations of these electoral call provisions would require a minimum prison sentence of 30 days. Two provisions concern survey researchers: (1) the time of day limitation on autodialer calls, which are even more restrictive than the existing 8am to 9pm limitations applicable to telemarketers; and (2) the possible interpretation of the requirement to perfectly disclose the “the sponsor, endorser, or originator” of the call. Because of the legislative clout of the sponsor, this legislation could potentially see action. CMOR will be contacting the sponsor to educate her in the practices of legitimate survey research, and seek to amend H.R. 1383 to minimize its impact on the research profession.

Political Calls
Congress – H.R. 479 would add “politically-oriented telephone calls” to the existing restrictions on telemarketing sales calls to residential and cellular lines listed in the federal Do Not Call registry. Since the legislation defines “politically-oriented telephone calls” as calls “whose purpose is to promote, advertise, campaign for, or solicit donations for or against any political candidate”, H.R. 479 would have minimal impact on the survey research profession.

Congress – The Freedom from Automated Political Calls Act (H.R. 372) and the Robo Calls Off Phones (Robo COP) Act (H.R. 248) would both add “politically-oriented recorded message calls” to the existing restrictions on telemarketing sales calls to residential and cellular lines listed in the federal Do Not Call registry. Both bills define “politically-oriented recorded message telephone call” as any outbound telephone call with a recorded message “whose purpose is to promote, advertise, campaign, or solicit donations, for or against any political candidate or regarding any political issue, or uses in the recorded message any political candidate's name.” Since the definition’s inclusion of calls that use “any political candidate's name” would entrap some public opinion polling, CMOR will be contacting the sponsors to educate them on the difference between political advocacy calls and legitimate survey research, and to help them refine their definition so as not to impede the efforts of the research profession.

Cell Phones
VA has adopted SB 1039 into law, prohibiting the use of cellular telephones while driving for those under 18 years old. The law is applicable only to drivers. The impact, however, is for all persons who are contacting those under 18 on their cell phones, while they are driving in their cars. As a result, survey research is impacted by implication. It is therefore important for your company to implement policy and questionnaire designs to make sure you are not contacting anyone in this category while they are driving. It is also important to review other similar state laws regarding cell phone, blackberry, and text message use while driving. For further information see http://www.statehighwaysafety.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html

Congress – The Simplified Small Business Telephone Tax Relief Act (S. 1123) would require the Internal Revenue Service to simplify the system for small businesses and individuals to claim the new excise tax refund on long distance service. Congress has not taken any action on this bill, nor is it likely that Congress will act in time to make any difference on researchers’ phone bills..

Telephone Solicitation
NY - SB 4100 would allow individuals to register their fax numbers with the consumer protection board for the state do not call registry. By registering fax numbers the do not call registry would prevent the sending of fax advertisements to any one on the registry. The law is related to sales content only for consumers only. The law does not apply to the survey research profession.

Caller Identification
NY - HB 6880 would prohibit telephone solicitors from the use of any scheme, plan, subterfuge or device to send false caller information to caller identification equipment. The law applies to telephone solicitors only, and does not apply to survey research.

KY has adopted House Bill 437 into law, prohibiting the sending of unsolicited commercial fax advertisements without consent. Unsolicited advertisement is defined as “material transmitted to a recipient…by a fax machine that advertises the commercial availability or quality of property, goods, services, or business investment, or employment opportunities, and is transmitted to a recipient without the recipient’s prior express invitation or permission.” This new law applies to sales-related activities only, not survey research.

PA introduced the Unsolicited Electronic Mail Advertisements Act (HB 887) to prohibit the distribution of an unsolicited electronic mail advertisement when: (1) the message is addressed to a recipient where there is not prior existing business or personal relationship; and (2) consent to receive the message has not been provided by the recipient. The definition of “electronic mail advertisement” only includes sales-related messages, and does not include the survey research profession.

SD has enrolled HB 1285 into law, requiring a subject line heading for sending an unsolicited commercial e-mail advertisement without prior consent or a pre-existing business relationship in South Dakota. A unsolicited commercial e-mail advertisement is defined as “any electronic mail message initiated for the purpose of advertising or promoting the lease, sale, rental, gift offer or other disposition of any property, goods, services or extension of credit.” The law applies to sales related activities and does not restrict the survey research profession.