Pollsters and politicians will grieve at the news that the FCC is considering new regulations on robocalls that would make automated polling much more difficult. The Hill has some details:
The FCC has framed the plan as a win for consumers, arguing the new proposal would clarify popular restrictions against telemarketers. The commission notes that the top consumer complaint at the agency is unwanted or intrusive calls.
“Consumers have the right to control the calls and texts they receive, and the FCC is moving to enforce those rights and protect consumers against robocalls, spam texts, and telemarketing,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a blog post last month.
One of the largest proposals in the new ruling would allow telephone companies to offer call-blocking technology to their customers, though it would not be required. This technology is meant to stop robocalls before they ever reach a customer’s phone.
MRA [Marketing Research Association] director of government affairs Howard Feinberg recently warned that the best-case scenario is that the technology “will block out most autodialed research calls.”
The trade group has also warned that the FCC’s expanded definition of autodialers — which are already banned from calling cellphones — will outlaw a work around, though it is unclear how many polling companies use that technique. Other concerns center on stricter consent restrictions to be called on a mobile phone by a person using an autodialer.
We can’t say we’re sorry to hear about this development. If politicians are less certain about public opinion as a result of this move, all the better. The American people are not lab rats to be tested at will by “experts”, and pandering to the polls has never been the best way to make policy. The over-reliance on handicappers and pollsters degrades rather than enhances the nature of our political life. Would Abraham Lincoln have been a better President if he had been briefed on opinion polls every day?
No doubt the polling industry and politicians will push the FCC to give them a break, but let’s hope for all our sakes that they fail in their attempt to robocall a nation that really doesn’t want to hear from them at all.