Monthly TCPA Digest December 2018: Part II – TCPA Legislative Update
Congress Introduces Legislation Combatting Robocalls
Although the end of the year is in sight, Congress continues to work hard on legislation to combat robocalls. Last month, Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence, or TRACED, Act. This legislation would allow the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to levy harsher penalties on marketers and scammers who use automatic dialing devices. The bill would allow callers to be fined $10,000 for each call they make intentionally violating telemarketing laws, an increase from the current $1,500 per call the law currently allows. The bill would also extend the statute of limitations under which the FCC could prosecute robocallers, increasing it from one year to three. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tweeted his support for the bill saying he was pleased with the new enforcement power it would give the commission.
More recently, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Real Peace Act. This bill would end the exemptions that common carriers get from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in an attempt to crack down on illegal robocalls. In late November, the FTC Commissioners testified before the Senate Commerce Committee. During the hearing, Chairman Simons discussed how the FTC and FCC work together to combat illegal robocalls. He also mentioned that eliminating the common carrier exemption would help the FTC in its efforts to combat these intrusive and disruptive calls.
While it is unlikely that either of these bills will be voted on before the end of Congress, both are likely to be introduced at the beginning of the next Congress. Lawmakers on both sides of the Hill and the aisle remain committed to combatting illegal robocalls and giving the agencies the tools they need to combat them effectively.