U.S. Senate Passes Bill to Cut Down on Robocalling

The United States Senate today voted almost unanimously to approve an anti-robocalling bill that would cut down on the number of illegal robocalls that people receive.

The TRACED Act (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence), first introduced in January, increases penalties for robocalls, provides authorities with more time to act, promotes the adoption of call authentication and blocking tools, establishes an interagency group for exploring additional scam call deterrents, and clears the way for criminal prosecution of robocallers.

"This bipartisan, common-sense bill puts a bullseye on the scam artists and criminals who are making it difficult for many Americans to answer the phone with any bit of confidence about who's on the other end of the line," said Senator John Thune. "While this bill would make it easier for federal regulators to levy more substantial financial penalties on these bad actors, we take it one step further by working toward creating a credible threat of criminal prosecution - laying the ground work to put these people behind bars. It's not every day that you see over 80 senators from all corners of the country lend such strong support to a bill like this, but I believe it highlights the urgency of this matter. I want to thank Sen. Markey for all of his work, and we urge the House to take up the TRACED Act without delay."
If the TRACED Act passes, individuals or companies who flout telemarketing restrictions could receive fines of up to $10,000 per call, and the FCC would have up to three years to prosecute after a robocall is placed, up from one year.

It would also require voice service providers to adopt call authentication technologies, which would let cellular carriers verify that incoming calls are legitimate before even reaching consumer phones, and it requires the FCC to create rules to help protect consumers from receiving unwanted calls or texts.

Some carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile have already implemented limited protection features that are designed to cut down on scam calls, but it's a pervasive problem that has only been growing worse in recent years.

Last year, an estimated 30 percent of all phone calls were spam calls, a number that could grow to 42 percent of all calls this year.

The FCC last week proposed new tools that would clear the way for mobile phone companies to block robocalls by default, and last year, the FCC called on companies to adopt call authentication systems for eliminating spoofed phone numbers.

The TRACED Act will now head to the House for consideration, where it is also likely to see similar support.

Top Rated Comments

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9 months ago
Good call!!
Rating: 36 Votes
9 months ago
How about a law that imposes penalties on the carriers instead, to force them to fix the problem rather than waiting for their announced voluntary efforts to come to fruition.
Rating: 23 Votes
9 months ago
Yeah, good luck enforcing that on IP calls originating from Asia.
Rating: 16 Votes
9 months ago
Robocallers should go to jail. Especially the ones who scrape data from various places and disturb vulnerable old people with hoax calls and financial scams.
Rating: 15 Votes
9 months ago
This will do nothing.
Rating: 12 Votes
9 months ago
Cut down? What does that mean, exactly?

Why do I get the feeling it won’t eliminate robocalls, but will simply push companies to use other methods to get around regulations?
Rating: 12 Votes
9 months ago
Anyone who has taken the time to actually read the bill would agree that it does absolutely nothing to curb robocalls and spam texts. Zero.

Among the highlights:

* No criminal penalties for robocalls or spoofing phone numbers - instead the civil penalties increase from $1,500 to $10,000 per call (people who engage in robocalls could care less about potential penalties)
* telecoms can obtain exemptions and extensions to the requirement to provide call screening and blocking to consumers - it will be years before we get theses tools, if ever.
* consumers can't pursue individual actions against spammers and robocallers - critical given how ineffective the FCC has been in enforcing the Do Not Call list
* no changes to give some teeth to the useless Do Not Call list and associated regulations

Should have been voted down 99-0. It wasn't because as the comments here prove, it's all about optics in the minds of the voters, and this "looks good."

The issue is US phone calls are significantly cheaper than European calls. The US FCC has been restricting the cost that a long distance carrier pays to another in order to terminate the call for more than 2 decades. It actually has been set to zero recently, eliminating the main cost of long distance calls.

This is in direct contrast to many parts of Europe that have calling party pays on cell phones, which means a single call can be a few cents per minute. Compare to US wholesale long distance rates on the order of 0.06 cents/min (6 cents per 100 min). That is, you can make easily 50 calls in the US for the price of 1 in Europe.

Charging for phone calls is not the solution. It's time to put people in prison.
Rating: 9 Votes
9 months ago
I hope this actually does something, I don’t even pick up the phone anymore from numbers that aren’t in my contacts.
Rating: 7 Votes
9 months ago

I’d appreciate political groups be removed from the Do Not Call registry exception list.

You'll never see that because it's the political groups that created the ridiculous exception that makes zero sense.

Hopefully this one is enforced unlike some of the other laws we have that they turn a blind eye to.

It can't be enforced. Robocallers and spammers are generally based overseas, unidentifiable, or are scumbags who could care less about civil judgments. There are no criminal penalties so no one has to worry about prison time.

Without reading the details this sounds like a good idea.

Read the details.
Rating: 7 Votes
9 months ago
The only real solution is to make it technically impossible to spoof numbers. The penalties don't matter.
Rating: 7 Votes

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