Automated Research
PA - Has amended H.B. 1877, sponsored by Rep. McGeehan (D), which would require registration for businesses conducting "automatic political calls," the same as current law requires for telemarketing. H.B. 1877 creates a do not call registry for automatic political calls and prohibits contacting anyone listed on the registry. Exemptions are provided for calls made on behalf of a political candidate, political party or political body made by an individual or for calls that are not made by an automatic dialing-announcing device. The legislation also requires the person conducting the calls to obtain the registry on a biannual basis for scrubbing purposes only.

An automatic political call is defined as "the use of an automatic dialing-announcing device on behalf of any of the following: (1) candidate; a party; or a political body (2) political committee (3) a political organization." An automatic dialing-announcing device is defined as "A device that selects and dials telephone numbers and that working along or in conjunction with other equipment, disseminates a prerecorded or synthesized voice message to the telephone number called." H.B. 1877 is a concern for MRA. The legislation would require all automatic political calls for research purposes made on behalf of a political committee or a political organization to register and scrub against the proposed do not call registry. MRA will work to further amend the language to exempt survey and opinion research calls.

Caller ID
Congress-The House Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee amended the Truth in Caller ID Act (H.R. 1258), a bill which would make it "unlawful for any person within the United States ... to cause any caller identification service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information, with the intent to defraud or cause harm." The amended bill now calls on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to consider requiring "non-commercial calls to residential telephone lines using an artificial or pre-recorded voice to deliver a message to transmit caller ID information that is not misleading or inaccurate." Such "non-commercial calls" could include automated research calls and this possible regulation would set a higher bar that may not serve the interests of the research profession. MRA will be sharing our concerns with the Subcommittee. However, we always recommend a policy of "truth in caller ID" for researchers.

Congress - Rep. Altmire (D-PA) introduced the Call Center Consumer's Right to Know Act (H.R. 3621), which would require employees at a call center who either initiate or receive telephone calls to disclose their physical location. Because H.R. 3621 defines a call center as "a location that provides customer-based service and sales assistance or technical assistance and expertise to individuals located in the United States via telephone, the Internet or other telecommunications and information technology." The bill does not appear to impact telephone calls for survey and opinion research.

Data Security
CA - In the September 2009 Legislative Update, MRA reported S.B. 20, sponsored by Sen. Simitian (D), as enrolled into law. The bill, however, was vetoed at the last minute by Governor Schwarzenegger (R). Survey researchers should follow current law in California, which requires notification of a security breach of a California resident’s personal information. Personal information includes, "an individual’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with any one or more of the following data elements, when either the name or the data elements are not encrypted: (1) social security number, (2) driver’s license number or California Identification Card number, (3) account number, credit or debit card number, in combination with any required security code, access code or password that would permit access to an individual’s financial account."

Congress-Rep. Burgess (R-TX) introduced H.Res. 193, expressing the sense of Congress regarding the need to pass meaningful legislation to protect commercial and government data from data breaches.

Maine - The Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary held special hearings on October 15 and 16 to review the Prevent Predatory Marketing Practices against Minors Act (Public Law 2009, Chapter 230). MRA submitted comments to the Committee to explain how this law harms research with Maine minors.

As MRA reported in the August Legislative Update and a subsequent video bulletin, the law includes a prohibition on transferring the personally-identifiable information of a minor. While the attorney general indicated she would not uphold the law, private lawsuits remain a distinct possibility.

The Committee concluded its hearings with the filing of a report to the Maine Senate and House leadership, asking the leadership to repeal the law as soon as possible and start fresh. MRA applauds the repeal of this flawed law, will be advocating for the research profession as Maine crafts a new law and mobilizing grassroots researchers in the state in support.