On the same day that the Senate Commerce Committee voted unanimously to approve the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, Jessica Rosenworcel, a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission, called for the creation of a specific enforcement unit within the agency to combat the proliferation of robocalls.
Testifying before a Senate appropriations subcommittee, Rosenworcel, commenting on the agency’s lack of effectiveness in collecting fines it has assessed on robocallers, said the agency’s “current approach is not working. It’s like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon.” To help, she made three recommendations:
- Require the adoption of the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication rules to “help return trust to our communication networks”
- Ask wireless carriers to make available to all customers free tools to block or avoid robocalls from being connected
- Create a specific division within the FCC’s enforcement bureau to fight robocalls
“Robocalls are the largest single source of consumer complaints at this agency,” Rosenworcel said. “It’s time for the FCC to organize its work to reflect that.”
Meanwhile, in another room, the Senate Commerce Committee voted to send the TRACED Act to the Senate floor for consideration. The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Thune [R-S.D.], and Sen. Edward Markey [D-Mass.], stiffen the fines allowed to be levied against perpetrators of illegal robocalls, give the FCC more time to investigate and take enforcement actions, require carriers to adopt call authentication technology, and direct the FCC to issue a rule protecting individuals from receiving unwanted calls or text messages.
In advancing the measure, Sen. Markey labeled it a “historic step towards finally ending the deluge of unwanted and intrusive robocalls bombarding millions of consumers across our country on a daily basis.”