In advance of a Senate hearing on voter protection from robocalls, CMOR reached out to the committee to share the concerns of the survey and opinion research profession with legislative solutions that could be discussed.
The Senate Rules Committee will hold a hearing on February 27, 2008, titled "PROTECTING VOTERS AT HOME AND AT THE POLLS: LIMITING ABUSIVE ROBOCALLS AND VOTE CAGING PRACTICES."
In a February 12 letter, CMOR said that, as an advocate for individual privacy, we seek "to protect consumers from telephone harassment and unwanted telemarketing calls." However, we remain "concerned that some legislative solutions intended to protect consumers from unwanted automated calls (by requiring extra disclosures or adding such calls to the national Do Not Call Registry) may inadvertently circumscribe legitimate survey and opinion research calls."
Some in our industry "conduct political research using automated dialing systems, technology which makes the research process feasible and affordable and prevents telephone interviewers from accidentally dialing unintended respondents. In addition, some members of the profession (such as Rasmussen and Survey USA) make use of interactive voice response (IVR) systems to conduct polls, sometimes referred to as 'robopolls.' Still other researchers use automated dialing and announcing devices (ADAD) to send messages to recruit respondents for political research." CMOR emphasized that these kind of "legitimate research activities do not attempt to sway the opinion of a respondent, induce or suppress activity, sell any products, goods or services, or fundraise."
Since "CMOR has met with the staff responsible for such legislation in the House of Representatives and each has expressed interest in making minor amendments to their bills in order to protect the integrity of the research process," our membership "sincerely hopes" that Senate Rules Committee Chair Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and her committee members will "be similarly receptive to assistance in order to protect legitimate research practices in any legislation" that might be considered at or resulting from the robocall-focused hearing.