NEW
Bill Cracking Down on Robocalls Expected to Be Signed into Law

Here is some good news for literally everyone, or at the very least tons of people on either side of the proverbial aisle: The TRACED Act, which has already passed both houses of Congress, is expected to be signed into law by President Trump within the next few days. The bill is being hailed as a step in the right direction by people across the political spectrum, as it tackles the issue of robocalling, which has grown rampant over the past several years. Not only will the law increase the fines and punishments for those responsible for illegal robocalls, but will also establish an interagency task force that will study how to best keep them at bay.

Axios reported on the TRACED Act being sent to the President’s desk, noting that it cleared the Senate with a unanimous vote after being approved by the House earlier this month. The bill, a summary of which can be found here, highlights the fact that there was an estimated 48 billion robocalls in 2018, up more than 64% from 2016. And while that number is clearly insane, what’s even more shocking is the bill’s reference to research done by First Orion, which predicts that 44.6% of all calls to mobile phones in 2019 will have been scam calls. On top of that, the bill notes that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has received 232,000 customer complaints in 2019 regarding robocalls, up 35% since 2015.

The bill outlines the current problems the government has to deal with in regards to prosecuting those responsible for illegal robocalls, noting issues like the inability to go after first-time offenders, inadequate fine amounts, and the use of disguised caller-IDs by the robocallers. Aiming to tackle these issues, as well as others, the bill calls for a new level of “sustained enforcement.” This is to be achieved by extending the statute of limitations (in some cases up to four years), increasing penalties up to $10,000 for intentional violators, and establishing a requirement for the FCC to issue an annual report to Congress so that they can keep track of its progress in dealing with the problem.

On top of those changes, the bill will also require “all carriers, over time, to implement… new technology to make sure that caller-ID information is appropriately authenticated with no additional line item charge for consumers on their bill.” This is being done specifically to tackle the aforementioned issue of robocalls being disguised, often times as familiar-looking phone numbers.

Perhaps the best deterrent against those responsible for illegal robocalls offered by the bill is its requirement for the FCC “to register a consortium of companies engaged in private-led efforts to trace back the origin of suspected unlawful robocalls.” And while this section of the bill doesn’t seem to directly compel private companies to pool resources in their efforts to trace the original sources of illegal robocalls, it does seem like it will make it possible for Congress to shame them into action—this is because the FCC will be required to publish a list of which companies have registered to help, and which ones haven’t.

What do you think about the TRACED Act and the possible effects it will have on illegal robocalls? And how bad has the robocalling epidemic hit you? Let us know your distinctly human thoughts in the comments!

Feature image: Raquel Palomino Photography