CASRO and MRA Join Suit Against the FCC’s New TCPA Rules

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Editor’s Note: Like anyone who has been in the research industry for more than ten years, I cut my teeth doing CATI based telephone research; in fact my first job in research was running a call center, and my second was as COO for an IVR provider who mostly did outbound political polling work. Back then online research was just beginning to be adopted, and like many I saw the writing on the wall and increasingly began adopting online methods as a “go to” methodology, but even until 2010 when I stopped conducting primary research I would still occasionally use CATI as the best methodology to accomplish the goals of the study, and I would do so again today if needed. Telephone based research is still an important and widely used tool in the researcher’s toolbox, a major revenue driver for many suppliers, and an important employment option for thousands of people.

That is why it’s important that we as an industry continue to have strong advocacy organizations to help government entities understand that tarring researchers with the same brush as marketers is a bad call. Whether we’re talking about TCPA or Data Privacy, the Law of Unintended Consequences (or even fully Intended) can impact the research industry in a profoundly adverse way. Thanks to the efforts of many trade associations, and especially CASRO and the MRA here in the United States, these adverse actions can be mitigated or even stopped entirely. I might not agree with everything they do or the positions they take, but for this reason alone if no other, they deserve our support and thanks.

 

Joint Press Release:

America’s two national research associations representing the profession and industry of survey, opinion and marketing research have filed a “motion to intervene” in a court case against new telephone rules from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In their motion, the Council of American Survey Research Organizations (CASRO) and the Marketing Research Association (MRA) contend that “the definition of an autodialer” in the FCC’s new Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules that restrict the use of autodialers to call cell phones “must be clarified to focus on the current capacity to generate and dial random or sequential numbers, and/or clarified to exclude calls that involve human intervention in the dialing.”

“If the court rules in our favor, we could walk away with a more constrained autodialer definition and an applicable human intervention test — both of which could be major points of relief for the research industry,” said Diane Bowers, CASRO president.

“We also seek relief from class action litigation over reassigned cell phone numbers. The FCC’s new rules create an unnecessary level of risk for researchers,” added David W. Almy, MRA CEO.

Because “cell phone numbers change subscribers frequently, and without notice,” the associations argued that callers who have expressed prior consent to call a cell phone number should not be held liable if that number has been reassigned to a new subscriber unless the caller gains actual knowledge of the reassignment.

Three organizations — ACA International, Sirius XM Radio, and the Professional Association of Customer Engagement—petitioned the court in opposition to the new TCPA rules. Those petitions were consolidated into a single case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. CASRO and MRA filed a motion to intervene under their petition to ensure the interests of researchers and research organizations are represented and addressed in the proceeding.

The 1991 TCPA requires express prior consent to call a cell phone using an autodialer. According to the most recent CDC data, more than 60 percent of American households are mostly or only reachable via cell phone, the calling of which is restricted for any purpose, including research, by the FCC’s implementation of the law.

The FCC’s new Declaratory Ruling and Order, issued on July 10, included a definition of an autodialer broadened to include most dialing equipment, and a one-call-before-liability standard for autodialer calls to cell phone numbers that have been reassigned to new users, whether or not the caller learns of that reassignment.

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CASRO and MRA are the national associations for survey, opinion and marketing research — CASRO represents U.S. research businesses and MRA represents U.S. research professionals.

Reposted with permission from CASRO. 

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