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American Association for Public Opinion Research

AAPOR committees don’t take vacations

by Tim Johnson, President
Hoping you have had an opportunity to take some time off to enjoy the beautiful summer we are enjoying (in most places) this year. Here at AAPOR, we’ve also managed some down time but have in addition had a particularly busy several months. Back in June, I outlined the activities of two new ad hoc committees charged with confronting the old problem of sugging & frugging, and the relatively new problem of false accusations of manipulation being made against surveys and public opinion polls. In addition to these efforts, there are two other AAPOR ad hoc committees that have just begun addressing other issues of importance to our community that you should be aware of.

The first of these is a committee concerned with cellular spam warnings and call blocking, being chaired by AAPOR Vice President David Dutwin. The genesis for this committee was David’s recent discovery that several companies that develop cell phone operating systems, along with cellular carriers and third party app builders, are beginning to provide features for cell phone owners to block (either automatically or manually) telephone numbers or provide warnings that incoming numbers are potentially either fraudulent or from spammers. This has potentially very serious implications for the continued conduct of telephone surveys, and I’m pleased to report that this committee will be researching this issue and returning with concrete recommendations.

Another committee has also recently been formed to address the implications of a new federal policy from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) which is designed to impose economic and trade sanctions against targeted foreign threats (of various types) to the United States. This includes maintenance of a sanctions list of individuals and companies that U.S. individuals and organizations cannot provide funds/payments to, apparently including respondent incentives. The fines for violations can be substantial, so we have asked another ad hoc committee to evaluate the potential risks to AAPOR members, as well as the broader survey community, and prepare recommendations regarding how AAPOR can best address this. Standards Chair Andy Peytchev is leading this effort.

We still have some summer left, but rest assured that as the leaves begin to change, we will be hearing from each of these groups regarding these important issues and what role AAPOR can best play in confronting each.