Anti-robocall legislation passes through US House, on track to become law

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act in a landslide 417-3 vote, setting the stage for ratification by President Trump.

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Named after sponsors Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the Pallone-Thune bill consolidates separate measures introduced in the House and Senate earlier this year. In May, Thune's TRACED Act sailed through the Senate, while Pallone's Stopping Bad Robocalls Act passed House scrutiny in July. Both bipartisan acts enjoyed nearly unanimous support.

Lawmakers arrived at the current version of the TRACED Act following months of negotiations, reports The Hill.

"Today the House will take strong bipartisan action to protect consumers from illegal robocalls," Pallone said in session. "A whopping 5.6 billion robocalls were made to Americans in November alone [. . .] Today, the House is giving Americans back control of their phones."

The meat of the legislation lays down certain requirements for phone carriers, including implementation of call authentication technology like STIR/SHAKEN and call blocking services to customers free of charge. Further, government regulators are granted wider berth in the identification and punishment of scammers.

Some domestic carriers offer forms of anti-spam technology, like AT&T's Call Protect, but in some cases monthly subscriptions are required to access a full slate of services. Today's bill forces providers to offer comparable call screening tech to consumers without fees.

A notable amendment to the bill introduced by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Michael Burgess (R-Texas) calls on the Federal Communications Commission to establish a Hospital Robocall Working Group. Healthcare facilities are a popular target for spam callers, a development that has proven detrimental to effective medical treatment.

One element from the House version that failed to make it into the compromise bill is an expanded definition of the term "robocall," which lawmakers hoped to include as a means to broaden the FCC's punitive options when dealing with spammers.

Thune believes the Senate will take up a vote on the legislation by the end of next week, the report said.

Beyond Congress, individual states and a cadre of telephone companies are working to fight the scourge that is robocalling. In August, attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia joined forces with 12 companies, including major carriers AT&T, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, to promise a rollout of free robocall protections and call authentication technology.
razorpit
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    Thank goodness.  I've started getting random phone calls from people who swear that I called them, and I have had to explain that someone is spoofing my phone number.  I'm not happy about it.  Hopefully this bill, along with STIR/SHAKEN, will put the proverbial nail in the coffin.
    firelockrazorpitjbdragon
  • Reply 2 of 28
    DRBDRB Posts: 34member
    Let's see how long it takes for the Senate to do THEIR job. Also, who were the 3 votes against it? Maybe they should be excluded and robocalled forever. ;-)
    razorpitcornchipminicoffee
  • Reply 3 of 28
    It's too bad that political calls from government officials aren't covered by this.  The cynic in me also expects political related calls from PACs, lobbyists, and such to be excluded.
    DAalsethrazorpitcornchip
  • Reply 4 of 28
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,118member
    It's too bad that political calls from government officials aren't covered by this.  The cynic in me also expects political related calls from PACs, lobbyists, and such to be excluded.
    You're probably right. That would be called "political speech" and nobody wants to put any limits on that. When I get a robocall, I immediately hang up and block the number. I don't listen to more than the robotic "Hello". I don't care who you are or what you are calling about, if you can't be bothered to put a real person on the phone, F-Y.
    StrangeDayscornchip
  • Reply 5 of 28
    It is important to note that these systems will NOT stop robocalls. That’s non-trivial in the VOIP era when those calls can come from anywhere, most of which don’t care what laws the US passes. 

    What it will do is allow you to see when someone is spoofing the caller ID. Those calls can be ignored. It’s definitely better than nothing, and hopefully it will reduce the cost benefit ratio to the point where it’s not worth doing. But the cynic in me thinks the typical marks for these scams will be happy to take any call and any excuse as to why the caller is says THIS IS SPOOFED. 
    razorpitdysamoriacornchip
  • Reply 6 of 28
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    It is important to note that these systems will NOT stop robocalls. That’s non-trivial in the VOIP era when those calls can come from anywhere, most of which don’t care what laws the US passes. 

    What it will do is allow you to see when someone is spoofing the caller ID. Those calls can be ignored. It’s definitely better than nothing, and hopefully it will reduce the cost benefit ratio to the point where it’s not worth doing. But the cynic in me thinks the typical marks for these scams will be happy to take any call and any excuse as to why the caller is says THIS IS SPOOFED. 
    Hopefully iOS ‘14’ has an option to block these calls. I also hope Verizon comes up with something for landlines.
  • Reply 7 of 28
    Blah blah blah.  

    The never benevolent government puts requirements on service providers to build and offer free stuff. 

    They had to do this because the FTC Flat Out REFUSES to prosecute the criminals violating the do-not-call registry.  

    The way to fix this is not to force the cell companies to build a bigger bandaid.  It is to make placing a robocall a mandatory federal capital crime.  The very first time the lethal injection needle goes into some scammer I absolutely guarantee you all robocalls will stop forever.  
    cornchipbadmonkjony0
  • Reply 8 of 28
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,765member
    At last law makers did something good for public. Hope there is a penalty for calling anyone for profit.
  • Reply 9 of 28
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,094member
    This bill will not accomplish anything because it does not prohibit robocalls, only the spoofing of phone numbers in making such calls (and even then it allows for numerous exceptions). Moreover, it does not address a giant loophole in current law where the definition of a robocall is so narrow that 99% of such calls are not really robocalls. 

    Under the TCPA, an autodialer is a system that can "store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and ... dial such numbers.” 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A)(iii)

    Under current law, if the person operating the autodialer/robocall system manually inputs the numbers into the system, it is not a robocall. If the numbers come from a marketing list, it is not a robocall. Only a system that randomly generates numbers falls under the definition.

    What congress needs to do is put teeth into laws that have been around for 20 years by increasing penalties, giving consumers a private right of action, and banning all automated calling systems. But that will never happen, so the calls will continue unabated.  
    edited December 2019 dysamoriazoetmblostkiwicornchipminicoffeeacheron2018
  • Reply 10 of 28
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    flydog said:
    This bill will not accomplish anything because it does not prohibit robocalls, only the spoofing of phone numbers in making such calls (and even then it allows for numerous exceptions). Moreover, it does not address a giant loophole in current law where the definition of a robocall is so narrow that 99% of such calls are not really robocalls. 

    Under the TCPA, an autodialer is a system that can "store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and ... dial such numbers.” 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A)(iii)

    Under current law, if the person operating the autodialer/robocall system manually inputs the numbers into the system, it is not a robocall. If the numbers come from a marketing list, it is not a robocall. Only a system that randomly generates numbers falls under the definition.

    What congress needs to do is put teeth into laws that have been around for 20 years by increasing penalties, giving consumers a private right of action, and banning all automated calling systems. But that will never happen, so the calls will continue unabated.  
    Exactly. It’s designed to be a neutered “law” to protect the interests of our corporate overlords. 
    acheron2018
  • Reply 11 of 28
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 427member
    DRB said:
    Let's see how long it takes for the Senate to do THEIR job. Also, who were the 3 votes against it? Maybe they should be excluded and robocalled forever. ;-)
    You'd have to be in someone's back pocket to vote against this. Follow the money wherever it leads you.
  • Reply 12 of 28
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 427member
    I'm afraid we will get to the point where we enter the numbers of calls we will accept. I've effectively done that as I no longer answer the phone unless I know the number at home and have Nomorobo activated which catches a lot of the calls.
  • Reply 13 of 28
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,991member
    What robocalls? I’ve been contacted by both the IRS and Medicare numerous times and have gladly sent them a lot of money orders to keep from getting arrested. Who wants an arrest warrant from the government anyway? Are you saying these calls weren’t legit? Can I get my money back?
    edited December 2019 JaiOh81davgreg
  • Reply 14 of 28
    Useless Message PosterUseless Message Poster Posts: 11unconfirmed, member
    Reps. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) voted against the legislation. Massie had previously opposed robocall legislation, expressing concern about giving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) too much authority.
    badmonk
  • Reply 15 of 28
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,118member
    Blah blah blah.  

    The never benevolent government puts requirements on service providers to build and offer free stuff. 

    They had to do this because the FTC Flat Out REFUSES to prosecute the criminals violating the do-not-call registry.  

    The way to fix this is not to force the cell companies to build a bigger bandaid.  It is to make placing a robocall a mandatory federal capital crime.  The very first time the lethal injection needle goes into some scammer I absolutely guarantee you all robocalls will stop forever.  
    While I understand your position, given the percentage that come from outside the US, and are therefore immune to prosecution, this seems like a first step at least.
  • Reply 16 of 28
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,492member
    Reps. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) voted against the legislation. Massie had previously opposed robocall legislation, expressing concern about giving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) too much authority.
    Can someone check Massie's donor list?
  • Reply 17 of 28
    YP101YP101 Posts: 140member
    iOS 12 already had block this call feature.. If you received spam call, go back to call log list and at the bottom you can select block this call.
    I already doing this over 3 months and block around maybe 100's phone number and now I get less spam call.

    Actually spam or robocall does not mean much..
    The actual cause is company and DMV who selling your information.
    Some state's DMV already sold lots of phone number to this robocall company such as try to sell you car warranty and that cause spam mail and phone call.

    This problem is serious for senior people due to lack of information.
    lostkiwi
  • Reply 18 of 28
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,246member
    razorpit said:
    It is important to note that these systems will NOT stop robocalls. That’s non-trivial in the VOIP era when those calls can come from anywhere, most of which don’t care what laws the US passes. 

    What it will do is allow you to see when someone is spoofing the caller ID. Those calls can be ignored. It’s definitely better than nothing, and hopefully it will reduce the cost benefit ratio to the point where it’s not worth doing. But the cynic in me thinks the typical marks for these scams will be happy to take any call and any excuse as to why the caller is says THIS IS SPOOFED. 
    Hopefully iOS ‘14’ has an option to block these calls. I also hope Verizon comes up with something for landlines.
    With iOS13, you can set it so your phone doesn't ring for anyone not in your contacts. So they can still call and leave a voice message which you can ignore. I can peek and see the transcript and not even play the message. But you won't be bothered by any of these calls as your phone will remain quite. This works just as well for political phone calls also. Really for any type of call so long as they are not in your contacts.

    This should be more than good enough to fix this issue for you on your personal phone. You really can't do this for a business as you're customers wouldn't be in your contact list.
    edited December 2019 lostkiwi
  • Reply 19 of 28
    neilmneilm Posts: 954member
    jbdragon said:
    With iOS13, you can set it so your phone doesn't ring for anyone not in your contacts. So they can still call and leave a voice message which you can ignore. I can peek and see the transcript and not even play the message. But you won't be bothered by any of these calls as your phone will remain quite. This works just as well for political phone calls also. Really for any type of call so long as they are not in your contacts.

    This should be more than good enough to fix this issue for you on your personal phone. You really can't do this for a business as you're customers wouldn't be in your contact list.
    I've been using this since iOS 13 came out and am very happy with the result. I've always made a big effort to keep even casual contacts in my Contacts list, so very few legit calls end up going to voicemail.

    It's too bad my wife can't do the same, for just the reason you mention, because she uses her iPhone for business.
    cornchip
  • Reply 20 of 28
    MacPro said:
    Reps. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) voted against the legislation. Massie had previously opposed robocall legislation, expressing concern about giving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) too much authority.
    Can someone check Massie's donor list?
    Why, so you can harass them because they dared to support a candidate that voted against a position you support?  I don't agree with this particular vote, but the idea that we should harass and hate on anyone who supports someone we disagree with is a cancer that has spread and is splintering America.
    edited December 2019 cornchipmuthuk_vanalingam
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