Pollsters have jumped into the legal fray challenging the FCC’s new restrictions on calling cellphones. The Council of American Survey Research Organizations (CASRO) and the Marketing Research Association (MRA) on Thursday announced they've filed a “motion to intervene” in a court case challenging the calling rules the FCC implemented in July.
The groups contend that “the definition of an autodialer” in the new Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules that restrict the use of the devices to call cellphones “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,” according to a release.
“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, president of the CASRO, in a statement.
MRA CEO David Almy added: “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.”
The groups noted that cellphone users frequently change numbers and carriers reassign them so when a pollster or survey researcher calls the person’s old number, even though he or she consented, they could be penalized under the new rules. They shouldn’t be, according to the groups, “unless the caller gains actual knowledge of the reassignment.”
The survey industry groups join a consolidated proceeding that includes ACA International, a trade association for debt collectors, Sirius XM Radio and the Professional Association of Customer Engagement, which represents telemarketers. The bedfellows are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to halt the new TCPA rules.
The appeals process could take 10-12 months. In the meantime, campaigns have already been told to brace for higher polling costs stemming from the difficulty contacting cellphone users under the new rules and the robocall-blocking technology that carriers can now offer.