New robocall legislation is just a presidential signature away from taking effect.
In May, the Senate passed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act in a nearly unanimous vote of 97 to 1. The House of Representatives passed the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act in July, requiring legislators to reconcile the two proposals.
Working to combine their bills, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) and Bob Latta (R-Ohio) created the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act.
The 44-page bill requires voice service providers to develop call authentication technologies and opt-in or opt-out robocall blocking to be offered at no additional charge to consumers.
Pursuant to the legislation, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must promulgate rules establishing when a provider may block a voice call based on information provided by the call authentication network, but also needs to establish a process to permit a calling party adversely affected by the framework to verify the authenticity of its calls.
In addition, the FCC is tasked with initiating a rule-making to help protect a subscriber from receiving unwanted calls or texts from a caller using an unauthenticated number.
Working together with the Department of Justice, the FCC will assemble an interagency working group to study and report to Congress on the enforcement of the prohibition of certain robocalls. Specifically, the working group was instructed to look into how to better enforce efforts against robocalls by examining issues such as the types of laws, policies or constraints that could be inhibiting enforcement.
The agency must also initiate a proceeding to determine whether its policies regarding access to number resources could be modified to help reduce access to numbers by potential robocall violators.
Increased fines for violations are available in certain cases and a longer statute of limitations was put in place.
Lawmakers wasted little time passing S. 151, with the House granting approval by a vote of 417 to 3 and the Senate acting by voice vote. The bill now moves to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
To read S. 151, click here.
Why it matters: “We’re delighted the Senate acted quickly to pass this legislation to shut down illegal robocalls,” Rep. Pallone said in a statement. “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.”