Robocalls are the target of the TRACED Act newly introduced in the Senate by Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) Among other things, the bill would require voice service providers to adopt call authentication technology.
The TRACED Act, also known as the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act, was originally introduced last year in the previous Congress.
Other provisions of the act include:
- Broadening the FCC’s authority to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call on callers who intentionally flout telemarketing restrictions
- Extending the window for the FCC to catch and take civil enforcement action against intentional violations to three years after a robocall is placed – a substantial increase from the current one-year window
- Requiring a range of entities to identify and report to Congress on improving deterrence and criminal prosecution of robocall scams. Entities referenced in a press release about the TRACED Act include the Department of Justice, FCC, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and “other relevant federal agencies, as well as state attorneys”
- Directing the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts
As for the voice provider requirements, the bill introduced last year that has now been re-introduced would require voice providers to implement an appropriate and effective call authentication framework in their internet protocol networks within 18 months of the bill’s enactment. The FCC would have the option of granting an extension for providers that demonstrate substantial hardship in purchasing or upgrading equipment to support call authentication.
The FCC has taken a range of enforcement against robocallers recently, including levying its largest-ever robocall fine of $120 million last year.
Nevertheless, a robocall index compiled by robocall blocking software provider YouMail shows that robocalls increased dramatically during 2018.
Jonathan Spalter, president and CEO of USTelecom, which represents large and small telecom service providers nationwide, praised the TRACED Act. In a prepared statement, he noted that USTelecom’s Industry Traceback Group has worked to identify the sources of suspicious network traffic and to expose illegal robocallers that spoof caller information and scam customers.
“The TRACED Act emphasizes the importance of reintroducing trust to the caller ID framework and heightens federal enforcement efforts to crack down on the robocall plague,” said Spalter.