House, Senate Leaders Announce Deal on Compromise Anti-Robocall Bill

A bipartisan group of leaders from the House and Senate announced on Friday that they had joined together and worked out a compromise anti-robocall bill, which will be called the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act.

The bill is named after Rep. Frank Pallone [D-N.J.], the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Sen. John Tune [R-S.D.], chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, who each had authored bills aimed at improving consumer protections and stiffening penalties against robocalls. Rep. Pallone had been pushing the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, which passed the House back in May. Sen. Thune’s bill was the TRACED Act, also passed overwhelmingly in May.

The Pallone-Thune TRACED Act was also supported by Rep. Greg Walden [R-Ore.], Sen. Ed Markey [D-Mass.], Rep. Mike Doyle [D-Penn.], chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chairman and Rep. Bob Latta [R-Ohio], the subcommittee’s chairman.

“Today, we are proud to announce that we have come to an agreement in principle on legislation, the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, to combat the robocall epidemic that we believe can be signed into law by the President,” the six House and Senate leaders said. “It’s time to put Americans back in charge of their phones. Our agreement will require telephone carriers to verify calls and allow robocalls to be blocked in a consistent and transparent way, all at no extra charge to consumers. The agreement also gives the FCC and law enforcement the ability to quickly go after scammers. We look forward to finalizing the bill text in the coming days.”

The actual details of what will be included in the compromise bill were not disclosed. Under the original TRACED Act:

  • The Federal Communications Commission would be allowed to assess fines of up to $10,000 per call on individuals who “flout telemarketing restrictions”
  • The FCC would have up to three years to take enforcement action against a perpetrator, up from one year currently. 
  • A task force of state and federal regulators, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, FCC, and Federal Trade Commission would be created to suggest ideas to promote deterrence and improve criminal prosecution of robocallers.
  • Carriers would be required to adopt call authentication technology, allowing them to ensure calls are legitimate before allowing them to be connected
  • The FCC would be directed to create a rule aimed at protecting individuals from receiving unwanted calls or text messages

Under the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act,

  • The Federal Communications Commission would be required to develop a rule that defines an automatic telephone dialing systems and calls made using an artificial or prerecorded voice
  • A four-year statute of limitations would be established for the FCC or other law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute alleged offenders of the law
  • Carriers, within six months of the law’s enactment, would be required to develop and deploy effective call authentication technology
  • Carriers would be required to offer call-blocking services that gives consumers the opportunity to opt-out of the program, should they so choose
  • The FCC would be required to submit a report to Congress on the implementation of its reassigned numbers database to make sure the Commission is effectively protecting consumers from unwanted calls.

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