A trio of Senate Democrats have introduced a bill that would give the Federal Trade Commission more powers to regulate and take enforcement actions against individuals and companies making illegal robocalls.
Called the Robocall Elimination At Last Protecting Every American Consumer’s Ears Act of 2018, or REAL PEACE Act, the bill would eliminate the common carrier exemption from the Federal Trade Commission Act, which was enacted in 1914 and exempted telecom companies from FTC jurisdiction because they were regulated by other agencies. While telecom carriers are still regulated by other agencies, most notably the Federal Communications Commission, the Senators felt that the problem of illegal robocalls was so severe that the FTC needed to be brought in to help.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-Calif.], Sen. Richard Blumenthal [D-Conn.], and Sen. Amy Klobuchar [D-Minn.].
“This bill would close an outdated loophole that enables scammers and spammers to make intrusive and illegal robocalls to millions of unsuspecting American households, without suffering any consequences,” said Sen. Blumenthal, in a statement. “These calls are not just unsolicited and disruptive—they are often dangerous and used to defraud consumers. Telecommunication companies should be doing everything they can to protect their customers from illegal robocalls. The REAL PEACE Act will give long neglected enforcement authority to the FTC that allows them to more aggressively crack down on these calls and finally hold bad actors accountable.”
The name of the bill is just about as long as the text needed to close the exemption. The bill does mention that removing the exemption does not “displace any authority of the Federal Communications Commission or the States to take action to protect net neutrality or otherwise protect consumers and competition, including in the provision of broadband services.”
In the release, the Senators do not say why they feel this is necessary, since one federal regulator is already asked with investigating and enforcement activities against robocallers. In their statements, the Senators make it sound like robocallers were allowed to do whatever they want without any oversight.
“Most robocalls aren’t just unwanted and disruptive – they are illegal,” said Sen. Klobuchar in a statement. “By closing a loophole that allows robocall companies to bother, harass, and scam consumers, this bill will enable the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on illegal robocalls and those who make them.”
The REAL PEACE Act follows a number of other bills that have been introduced to combat robocalls.