The Pollsters podcast recently delved into the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations restricting telephone research.

A bipartisan duo of Democrat and Republican pollsters, respectively, Margie Omero (managing director at Purple Strategies) and Kristen S. Anderson (Partner and Co-Founder at Echelon Insights), offer a weekly podcast focused primarily on political and public opinion polling to "lift the hood on the numbers revealing the hidden secrets of the public's mind." Taking a rare look at the regulatory and legal challenges facing pollsters themselves, Margie and Kristen recently interviewed Howard Fienberg, director of government affairs for the Marketing Research Association (MRA), on the new Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules.

Conversation ranged from the research industry response to the new TCPA rules:

Margie: "I don't know what you're hearing on the Republican side, Kristen, but I see a lot of people really worrying about what these new rules mean for polling costs across the board... Do we need to start panicking, as researchers, Howard?"

Howard: "I don't think that panic is the right response, but ... both people who conduct telephone research, or people who buy it or use it, need to take a very careful look at how it is being conducted and what technology is being used. What we've tried to explain to our members is that you need to take a very careful risk-management approach."

To the current state of telephone research risk for researchers:

Margie: "They've changed the regulation. The next step is a lawsuit to get them to clarify the new regulation or a bill that would change the new regulation, but it is in effect now, correct?"

Howard: "It was in effect as soon as they made the rule public last month."

Margie: "So there can be lawsuits brought against pollsters, people being fined.. that could happen as soon as now?"

Howard: "Yeah, it has already been going on. And on the lawsuit angle... there are mobile apps that are set up by trial law firms for the specific purpose of you turning over all the incoming phone call numbers to them so they can sue everyone who called you."

Kristen S. Anderson: "Wow."

Howard: "Automating the lawsuits on the TCPA which was designed to fight against automation."

Look for the Pollsters podcast Episode # 29 on September 10, 2015 (at the 47:25 mark):