The Senate has voted to adopt the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act (S 151), with modifications that were negotiated between the House and Senate. The House adopted the legislation earlier this month with a vote of 417-3. The bill is now on its way to President Trump’s desk. He is expected to sign the bill into law.
The legislation’s key provisions include:
- Requiring carriers to implement call-authentication technology at no charge to consumers and small businesses and would require carriers to provide opt-in or opt-out robocall-blocking at no charge;
- Requiring the FCC to conduct a rulemaking to protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from a caller using an unauthenticated number, “using in part, new methods for authenticating calls, while also protecting those that do not have access to call authentication;”
- Extending the statute of limitations for FCC enforcement action against illegal robocalls to four years;
- Authorizing the FCC to impose penalties of up to $10,000 per call for those intentionally violating telemarketing restrictions;
- Directing the FCC to report to Congress annually on its robocalling enforcement activities;
- Directing the Department of Justice, FCC, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to convene an interagency task force to study government prosecution of robocall violations, and to consult with state attorneys general.
“This bill represents a unique legislative effort that is not only bipartisan at its core, but it’s nearly unanimously supported in Congress. Most importantly, this is a significant win for consumers in every corner of the country, and it finally and officially puts illegal robocallers on notice. While no process is perfect, I’m glad we were able to work together with Republicans and Democrats, senators and members of the House to reach this important compromise, which, once signed into law, will begin to make an important down payment on the fight against illegal robocalls,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Senate Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet subcommittee.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee member, who co-sponsored the legislation with Sen. Thune, said: “The annoying and harassing robocalls we receive every day are neither a Democrat nor Republican menace; they are a universal menace. The TRACED Act cracks down on scammers by requiring phone carriers to authenticate whether calls are legitimate, and then blocking unverified robocalls at no charge to consumers.”
In a joint statement, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D., N.J.), committee ranking member Greg Walden (R., Ore.), Communications and Technology subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D., Pa.), and subcommittee ranking member Bob Latta (R., Ohio) said, “We’re delighted the Senate acted quickly to pass this legislation to shutdown illegal robocalls. We’re working hard to help the American people get real relief from these relentless and illegal calls. We look forward to the President signing this overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation into law very soon.”