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The US might finally be doing something about robocalls

U.S. citizens received over 30 billion spam calls in 2017, so it is good to finally see Capitol Hill take robocalls seriously.

Published onNovember 16, 2018

  • Two U.S. senators announced bipartisan legislation that cracks down on robocalls.
  • The legislation also requires carriers to use call authentication technologies and enact new protections.
  • No date has been set on a vote.

With robocalls continuing to plague consumers on a daily basis, Republican Senator John Thune and Democrat Senator Ed Markey unveiled bipartisan legislation that looks to impose stiffer penalties and force U.S. carriers to use call authentication technologies.

According to Reuters, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act focuses on four changes:

  • Increase the civil penalties for offenders from $1,500 to $10,000
  • Require carriers to adopt call authentication technologies that make sure calls on your phone are legitimate
  • Require carriers to enact new protections for subscribers that would protect them from unwanted calls and texts from unauthenticated numbers
  • Increase the statute of limitations from one year to three years

Increasing the statute of limitations might be the most crucial, since such a change would give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) more time to properly conduct its investigations alongside federal agencies and state attorneys general. It would also give the FCC more time to prosecute violators and impose civil penalties.

“Existing civil penalty rules were designed to impose penalties on lawful telemarketers who make mistakes. This enforcement regime is totally inadequate for scam artists and we need to do more to separate enforcement of carelessness and other mistakes from more sinister actors,” said Senator Thune in a statement to Reuters.

No date has yet been set on a vote.

How to block spam calls on your Android phone
TCL Plex hands on white in hand phone call up to ear

If the request for call authentication technology sounds familiar, that is because FCC chairman Ajit Pai alluded to it in a strongly-worded letter sent to major U.S. telecom players earlier in November. In the letter, Pai called for an industry-wide solution for the deluge of robocalls and alluded to the SHAKEN/STIR framework.

In short, the SHAKEN/STIR framework acts as a handoff between the caller, carrier, and recipient of the call. The framework lets the carrier validate the phone call to make sure it comes from an authentic source. This addresses one of the biggest problems when it comes to robocalls, which is the spammers’ ability to spoof where the call is coming from.

According to NBC News, U.S. citizens received over 30 billion spam calls in 2017. That makes an average of 2.5 billion spam calls each month, with that number likely rising even further in 2018.

It is clear that robocalls are an ongoing and worsening problem, so it is good to see that Capitol Hill is finally taking it seriously.

NEXT: FCC ready to ‘take action’ against carriers if spam robocalls aren’t stopped

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