The survey and opinion research profession should take note of a few specific pieces of the Republican Party's 2012 Presidential Platform, approved on August 28. Those pieces include regulatory reform, Internet freedom and the Census, all of which MRA discussed with the Republican National Committee (RNC) in July.
The platform touches on regulatory reform as a mechanism to remove impediments to job creation: "The proper purpose of regulation is to set forth clear rules of the road for the citizens, so that business owners and workers can understand in advance what they need to do, or not do, to augment the possibilities for success within the confines of the law. Regulations must be drafted and implemented to balance legitimate public safety or consumer protection goals and job creation. Constructive regulation should be a helpful guide, not a punitive threat. Worst of all, over-regulation is a stealth tax on everyone as the costs of compliance with the whims of federal agencies are passed along to the consumers at the cost of $1.75 trillion a year. ...In listening to America, one constant we have heard is the job-crippling effect of even well-intentioned regulation. That makes it all the more important for federal agencies to be judicious about the impositions they create on businesses, especially small businesses. We call for a moratorium on the development of any new major and costly regulations until a Republican Administration reviews existing rules to ensure that they have a sound basis in science and will be cost-effective."
The platform also mentions the importance of the Internet to innovation and "Protecting Internet Freedom": "The Internet has unleashed innovation, enabled growth, and inspired freedom more rapidly and extensively than any other technological advance in human history. Its independence is its power. The Internet offers a communications system uniquely free from government intervention. We will remove regulatory barriers that protect outdated technologies and business plans from innovation and competition, while preventing legacy regulation from interfering with new and disruptive technologies such as mobile delivery of voice video data as they become crucial components of the Internet ecosystem. We will resist any effort to shift control away from the successful multi-stakeholder approach of Internet governance and toward governance by international or other intergovernmental organizations. We will ensure that personal data receives full constitutional protection from government overreach and that individuals retain the right to control the use of their data by third parties; the only way to safeguard or improve these systems is through the private sector."
The key phrase, which leaves MRA uncertain of the Platform Committee's intent, is "individuals retain the right to control the use of their data by third parties". Is that an endorsement of previously-proposed restrictions on consumer data sharing? Is that aimed at government agencies? Is the point that "the only way to safeguard or improve these systems is through the private sector" an endorsement of self-regulatory approaches to consumer data privacy? The condensing of language within the platform has muddled the meaning of the text and left MRA interested, but concerned.
In addition to that piece, the only real focus on privacy in the platform document are in relation to citizen privacy from the govenment and from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), areas in which MRA is agnostic. The platform raises cybersecurity as a priority, but did not delve into data security.
While the platform does mention the Census briefly, the expected digs at the Census and the American Community Survey (ACS) did not materialize in the final document. This omission pleases MRA, since the 2008 GOP platform included a broadside aimed at the ACS on page 21: "we urge Congress to specify - and to constitutionally justify - which census questions require a response."
The regulatory reform and Internet freedom provisions may be going in the right direction (despite the muddled language) and we were pleased to see no attacks on the Census and the American Community Survey (ACS), but since most of the specific concerns of the research profession (such as data security, consumer data privacy, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act's (TCPA) restrictions on survey research calls to cell phones, and the treatment of respondents as if they are research company employees) have not been addressed, MRA cannot exactly do cart-wheels over the 2012 GOP Platform.
Image credit: USA 2012: The Next President