U.S. Senate passes TRACED Act to fight robocalls

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Everyone hates robocalls, and today the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a new bill to fight back against robocalls.

The Senate today approved the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act by a vote of 97-1. Now that it’s been approved, it’ll go to the House of Representatives to be examined.

If it passes, the TRACED Act will allow the Federal Communications Commission to hand out fines of up to $10,000 per call on anyone who intentionally violates telemarketing restrictions. It also extends the window for the FCC to catch and take civil enforcement against intentional violations to three years, up from the current limit of one year.

The TRACED Act allows government agencies like the Department of Justice, FCC, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as state attorneys general and other non-federal entities, to identify and report to Congress on improving the deterrence and criminal prosecution of robocall scams.

Voice service providers will be required to adopt call authentication technologies under the TRACED Act, too, which enable a carrier to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach the consumer’s phone. We’ve already seen T-Mobile and Verizon roll out this type of robocall protection, using the STIR and SHAKEN protocols to let you know if an incoming call is spam or is legitimate.

Finally, the TRACED Act directs the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to help protect consumers from getting unwanted calls or texts.

Robocalls are not only annoying, but they can cause real harm to consumers, and they’re only becoming more widely used. One report says that the number of spam calls will grow from 30 percent of all phone calls last year to 42 percent this year. While robocalls aren’t likely to completely disappear with the TRACED Act, the enforcements will hopefully cut down on the robocalls that consumers get every year.

You can find the full TRACED Act right here.

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