Research Groups to FCC: Clarify That We’re Not Telemarketers

In a new petition to the Federal Communications Commission, the Insights Association and the American Association for Public Opinion Research have called for stronger clarification that telephone-based research is legal.

Unfortunately for organizations that perform survey and marketing research, their data collection methods sometimes can be mistaken for telemarketing.

And that’s creating a lot of confusion that two trade groups are hoping the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can clear up.

This week, the Insights Association, a marketing research group, joined with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) in filing a petition asking the FCC to clarify the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which governs the use of telemarketing. In recent years, the agency has taken steps to regulate annoying calls under the law due to the rise of robocalls.

Those rules raised questions at the time, and uncertainty has grown because of litigation that has arisen since, the groups say.

“Courts and trial lawyers are conflating marketing research with marketing to the detriment of survey, opinion, and marketing research companies,” Insights Association CEO David Almy said in a news release.

The petition seeks to “clarify the regulatory distinction between the intent to market and sell to individuals and the dissimilar intent to understand market needs,” according to the release. The groups emphasized that rules governing marketing and bill collection calls should not apply to legitimate research firms.

AAPOR President Tim Johnson said his group specifically condemns any attempt to sell products during research projects.

“Selling under the guise of research, or sugging, is a practice condemned by AAPOR,” Johnson said in the release. “It is incumbent on the FCC to differentiate between marketing research and marketing.”

The petition comes at a time of change within the research industry. Earlier this year, the Insights Association was established as a result of a merger between the Marketing Research Association and the Council of American Survey Research Organizations.

(smiltena/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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