May 23, 2019

BREAKING: Robocall Legislation Passes Senate

WASHINGTON– Bipartisan legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) to crack down on illegal robocall scams passed the Senate today on an 97-1 vote. The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Actgives regulators more time to find scammers, increases civil forfeiture penalties for those who are caught, promotes call authentication and blocking adoption, and brings relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address impediments to criminal prosecution of robocallers who intentionally flout laws. 

The TRACED Actwas introduced by Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), andnow heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.  

“Hoosiers are fed up with the increasing number of robocall scams that are flooding their phones. These calls, sometimes reaching 10 a day, are more than just an annoyance, they are a real threat to the vulnerable people they are designed to prey on,” said Senator Young.“As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I’m glad to work with my colleagues to advance this legislation. Today’s Senate passage of the TRACED Actis an important step, and I urge the House to work quickly to help end these illegal robocalls once and for all.”  

In April, Senator Young questioned a panel of telecommunications experts about the TRACED Act.During the Senate Commerce Committee Hearing, Senator Young asked the panel about improving phone call authentication standards to proactively prevent unsolicited phone calls. 

Mr. Kevin Rupy, Partner at Wiley Rein’s Telecom, Media & Technology (TMT) Practice, responded by saying, “The TRACED Actdoes two things that are going to help with that – the facilitation and interagency work… will make finding these actors easier and faster, but I really think that at the end of the day, that the criminal enforcement component so if they get caught that first time they can’t set up shop again.” Click hereto watch the exchange in full.

Summary of the TRACED Act:

  • Broadens the authority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call on people who intentionally flout telemarketing restrictions.
  • Extends the window for the FCC to catch and take civil enforcement action against intentional violations to three years after a robocall is placed. Under current law, the FCC has only one year to do so, and the FCC has told the committee that “even a one-year longer statute of limitations for enforcement” would improve enforcement against willful violators.
  • Brings together the Department of Justice, FCC, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other relevant federal agencies, as well as state attorneys general and other non-federal entities to identify and report to Congress on improving deterrence and criminal prosecution at the federal and state level of robocall scams.
  • Requires voice service providers to adopt call authentication technologies, enabling a telephone carrier to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.
  • Directs the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from callers.

The TRACED Act would give the FCC more flexibility to enforce rules in the short term, while setting in motion consultations to increase prosecutions of violations, which often require international cooperation.

Click here to view a one-pager on the TRACED Act.

Click here to view the bill text.