Most people say it would be a blessing if they could block telemarketing calls that interrupt family dinners, evenings with friends or a favorite TV show. So it’s natural that most people will cheer a recent FCC proposal that allows telephone companies to offer technology that can block unwanted automated calls.
However, if you care about public policy research, current events or simply having an equal voice in your government, you should think twice. A new proposal means researchers and pollsters may no longer have the tools to get the information needed to inform decision makers in the health care industry, non-profits and government.
Let’s look at it through the lens of public policy and the survey research done in health care. Mollyann Brodie with the Kaiser Family Foundation recently said “Polls are used to show how many people have access to health insurance and…if people who have health insurance or don’t have health insurance are getting access to cancer treatment. The list is endless about just the basic health statistics we learn.”
Let’s look at it through the lens of current events and how polling affects key decisions by elected leaders. Peter Hart a longtime public policy pollster said, “If we lose the advantage of polling issues of the day, it really has a profound effect on democracy. The ability to understand whether Americans really, truly want to be involved with military troops in the Middle East is something important to understand.”
Or, let’s look at it through the simple lens of equality and how we can provide a voice to those who don’t have easy access to decision makers. Jay Leve, President of Survey USA said, “The rich always have a voice. The average person has no voice except the voice given to them in opinion research.”
While I agree it would be great to sit through dinner without getting calls from telemarketers trying to sell me something, this rule may do more harm than good and ultimately leave decision makers in the dark about what’s important to you. And that’s bad for all of us.