A controversial piece of proposed legislation is back with the intention of stiffening penalties for individuals or companies making robocalls, give federal regulators more time to investigate complaints, and promote the adoption of call blocking and authentication technologies.
The bill — the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act — was originally introduced last November and was re-introduced yesterday by Sen. John Thune [R-S.D.], and Sen. Edward Markey [D-Mass.].
“As Americans continue to suffer an endless stream of harassing spoofed calls and robocalls, the bipartisan TRACED Act will provide every person with a phone much needed relief,” said Sen. Markey, in a statement. “To address the scourge of calls, we need a simple formula: call authentication, blocking, and enforcement, and this legislation achieves all three. I thank Chairman Thune for his continued partnership on this effort, and look forward to seeing this legislation through to its passage.”
If enacted, the bill would:
- Allow the Federal Communications Commission to assess fines of up to $10,000 per call on individuals who “flout telemarketing restrictions”
- Give the FCC up to three years to take enforcement action against a perpetrator, up from one year currently.
- Create a task force of state and federal regulators, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, FCC, and Federal Trade Commission to suggest ideas to promote deterrence and improve criminal prosecution of robocallers.
- Require carriers to adopt call authentication technology, allowing them to ensure calls are legitimate before allowing them to be connected
- Direct the FCC to create a rule aimed at protecting individuals from receiving unwanted calls or text messages.
ACA International was quick to offer its commentary on the proposed legislation.
“We understand why the senators are seeking to target scam robocalls which are bothersome to consumers, and harmful to legitimate efforts, such as those of ACA members who need to communicate,” said ACA CEO Mark Neeb. “Nevertheless, policymaking in this area must consider the benefits of having the ability to communicate with consumers, and that expanding an already broad law is unlikely to make the worst actors follow the law.”