• Telephone
    • Automated Calls
    • Call Center Disclosure
    • Political Calls
    • Push Polls
  • Physician Gifts
  • Privacy
    • Data Security
    • Social Security Numbers
  • Tax/Budget
    • Census Funding
  • Sales
    • Do Not Call

Current Legislation

Automated Calls
Congress – Sen. Diane Feinstein introduced the “Robocall Privacy Act” (S. 2624), which would set time of day calling restrictions, require certain disclosures and limit the number of calls per day for “political robocalls.” “Political robocalls” are defined as any outbound calls that use a “recorded message” instead of a live caller and “which promote, support, attack, or oppose a candidate for Federal office.” MRA worked with the Senator’s staff BEFORE the legislation was introduced to ensure that the legislation had no negative impact on the survey and opinion research profession, since legitimate research calls do not promote, support, attack or oppose Federal candidates.

Illinois - Rep. Verschoore introduced H.B. 4637, which amends the Automatic Telephone Dialers Act. Each telephone call made by an autodialer shall, at the beginning of the prerecorded message, state the identity of the business or individual or other entity that is responsible for (i.e., conducting) the call. MRA is concerned about the potential disclosure that may be required depending on how the term ‘entity’ is defined and will seek to clarify it to determine how the measure may impact researchers.

Pennsylvania - Sen. Pileggi has introduced S.B. 820, which amends the definition of a telephone solicitation call to include “the use of an automatic dialing-announcing device on behalf of a candidate or party.” The legislation bars all uses of calls on behalf of a political candidate or a political party if the call is made with automated dialing equipment. MRA will seek clarity regarding how calls ‘on behalf’ are defined and take appropriate actions to provide insight into survey researchers’ use of autodialer equipment.

Kansas - Rep. Holmes has introduced H.B. 2698, which amends Kansas law regarding the use of automatic dialing and recorded message equipment. The legislation allows the use of ADAD equipment when the exclusive purpose is to poll or solicit the expression of ideas, opinions, or votes but if and only if: a subscriber has knowingly and expressly requested, consented to, permitted, or authorized receipt of a message or if the message is immediately preceded by a live operator who seeks to obtain consent for using an ADAD. MRA will provide information regarding the use of automated calls for research purposes and seek to “Shield the Profession” from any negative implications of this bill.

Call Center Disclosure
Arizona - Rep. Lujan introduced H.B. 2457, which requires call centers to reveal at the beginning of the call: the complete street address of the physical location of the call center, the name of the employer of the call center employee, and the call center’s true legal name. Any person who receives a call from the call center has a right to speak with an employee or government agency of the person requesting the business of the call center. The measure does not require survey researchers to reveal personal or confidential information, so it poses no negative impact for the research profession.

Political Calls
Louisiana - Rep. Morrell introduced HB 58, which would have created disclosure requirements for all entities, businesses and organizations that conduct polling on political issues. This legislation would have been detrimental to the survey and opinion research profession, but MRA and a grassroots volunteer helped to defeat it.

Virginia - Rep. Valentine has introduced HB 687, a bill creating disclosure requirements for campaign calls. The legislation prohibits any candidate or candidate campaign committee to make campaign telephone calls without disclosing at the beginning of the call: information to identify the person or political committee who authorized and paid for the calls, the registration number provided by the State Board, and the full name and residence address of the individual responsible for the calls. MRA will work to clarify the definition of a ‘campaign call’ to ensure that HB 687 poses no negative impact for the research profession.

Push Polls
Maryland - Rep. Simonaire has introduced S.B. 331 to prohibit persuasive polls. MRA fully supports efforts to limit illegitimate practices that threaten legitimate survey and opinion research. MRA will work with Rep. Simonaire to ensure that SB 331 better reflects the language we’ve developed previously (and enacted into law in Florida and Nevada).

Physician Gifts
Illinois - Rep. Burke introduced H.B. 4486, which amends the “Medical Practice Act” and the “Wholesale Drug Distribution Licensing Act” to prohibit any gifts over $50 to physicians from pharmaceutical manufacturers and their agents. Survey researchers are defined as agents for manufacturers and are therefore included within the scope of this measure. This legislation could severely hamper pharmaceutical market research, and MRA will work to ensure that research is ultimately excluded or protected from this kind of restriction.

Data Security
Congress – Rep. William L. Clay (D-MD-01) introduced the “Federal Agency Data Protection Act” (H.R. 4791), which would strengthen required Federal agency information security controls, protect personally identifiable information of individuals that is maintained in or transmitted by federal agency information systems, and provide for a prohibition on certain contracts with data brokers. MRA will soon provide for Shield readers a detailed analysis and cross-comparison of the many conflicting data security bills in Congress.

Congress – MRA has further clarified that the “Notify Americans Before Outsourcing Personal Information Act” (H.R. 4241) should have no noticeable impact on the research profession and is not likely to advance. This bill was noted in the January Legislative Update.

Social Security Numbers
Congress – Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ-11) introduced the “Social Security Number Misuse Prevention Act” (H.R. 5234), which would criminalize certain misuses of social security numbers. This bill would have minimal impact on the research profession.

Census Funding
The President’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2009 requests $2.6 billion in discretionary funds for the Census Bureau, including $2.1 billion for the 2010 Decennial Census: a program increase of $1.3 billion. These funds will go toward improving the accuracy of map features, continuing the annual American Community Survey and implementing early 2010 Decennial Census operations. The budget includes $45.7 million to continue the full Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) sample of 45,000 households that will begin in September 2008. This $21 million increase will allow for improvements to the current SIPP system by FY 2012, such as updating computer programming and improving survey content. Also included is an increase of $8.1 million for an initiative to improve the measurement of the service sector, expanding both quarterly and annual coverage to provide decision-makers with more comprehensive and timely data. The Census Bureau is the leading source of quality data regarding the Nation’s population and economy.

For more information on the Congressional budget process, see this video from CQ: http://www.cqpolitics.com/cq-assets/cqmultimedia/slideshows/budget_fy09/index.html

Do Not Call
Congress – On February 15, the President signed into law H.R. 3541 and S. 781, making permanent the addition of numbers added to the national Do Not Call Registry and extending the authority of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to collect fees to administer and enforce the Registry through Fiscal Year 2012. Numbers registered had originally expired after five years, but all numbers added before and going forward will remain permanently on the list. Since legitimate survey and opinion research calls are outside the scope of (and are therefore implicitly exempt from) the national Do Not Call Registry, these bills would have no direct impact on the survey and opinion research profession. However, researchers must remember that respondents do not know (and usually do not care) about that difference and must be prepared to deal with respondent concerns.

South Carolina - Rep. Clemmons has introduced H.B. 4591 and Sen. Martin has introduced S.B. 1019, which would amend the definition of unsolicited consumer telephone calls to include calls of a political nature. Depending on the definition of ‘calls of a political nature’, the survey and opinion research profession may be subject to disclosure requirements that could potentially bias research calls. MRA will seek clarity regarding each legislator’s intent and take the necessary actions to “Shield the Profession”.

Tennessee - Sen. Haynes has introduced S.B. 3707, which would amend the definition of telephone solicitation. Under the new definition, telephone solicitation would be defined to include the use of automatic-dialing announcing device (ADAD) equipment to effectuate a voice communication for any commercial, political, charitable or other purpose. Since the term “political” or “other purpose” is ambiguous, MRA will seek clarity with the state legislator to determine the intent of this legislation and will provide some education regarding the use of automated messages by survey and opinion researchers.

Utah - Rep. Sandstrom has introduced H.B. 300, which would define telephone solicitation and create guidelines for an established business relationship for conducting telephone solicitation. The legislation defines a telephone solicitation for commercial purposes and financial donations. The definition of telephone solicitor, however, is defined regarding unsolicited telephone calls, including calls that use an automated telephone dialing system. Due to this ambiguity, MRA will seek to clarify the intent of the legislation and educate the sponsor about the research profession.

West Virginia -Sen. Kessler has introduced legislation to regulate telephone solicitations. The bill describes a telemarketer as any person who may initiate or receive a communication that constitutes a telemarketing solicitation through an automated dialing machine. No definition is provided to clarify what is considered to be a “telemarketing solicitation,” and the definition may be based on the use of automated technology rather than the commercial context of the call. Since the term and intent are ambiguous, MRA will work to clarify the intent and educate the sponsor regarding the research profession’s use of automated dialers.