The House Energy and Commerce Committee is sending a bill to help end the onslaught of unwanted robocalls to the floor, an issue that both chambers of Congress have made a priority this session.
The bipartisan Stopping Bad Robocalls Act would outlaw a slate of methods fraudsters use to scam consumers over the phone and through text. If approved, the bill would make it easier for the government to go after the fraudsters and issue tougher penalties. The Federal Communications Commission would also need to update what it considers a “robocall,” which would require more businesses to obtain consent from customers before making robotic calls.
“The American people are fed up with robocalls,” Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) said. “Who can blame them – an estimated 47 billion robocalls were made last year. That’s outrageous. Today this Committee will provide some much needed relief.”
If approved, the bill would also demand that carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile start deploying the call authentication protocols SHAKEN/STIR. The protocols would work to help consumers distinguish whether a call is coming from a real caller by placing a message in the caller ID confirming the call is authentic. The bill also requires that call-blocking tech be implemented without an additional charge to consumers.
The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act follows the Senate’s TRACED Act spearheaded by Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Ed Markey (D-MA), which is awaiting a vote in the House. The TRACED Act would create an interagency task force to address the issue and extend the FCC’s statute of limitations for going after these robocallers. The Senate’s bill was criticized by consumer advocates for not going far enough, and the House’s legislation pushes consumer protections further.
Now, both bills are headed to the House floor.