Just over two weeks into the 116th Congress’s session, two powerful, telecommunications-focused Senators have reintroduced a bi-partisan piece of legislation that, if enacted, would amend the TCPA to provide for more enhanced administrative enforcement powers and increased civil penalties.
Hold on to your hats. The TRACED Act (S. 151), which encourages the FCC and other federal agencies to increase enforcement of the TCPA, is gaining serious bipartisan support. We’re heading into dangerous territory.
While the FCC continues to tread carefully in evaluating the thorny issue of how broadly to interpret the TCPA’s definition of “automated telephone dialing system,” particularly as it confronts proposed legislation that, if adopted, would ultimately expand the reach of the TPCA, the Commission has decided to move forward with some less controversial issues.
Since Chairman Ajit Pai took office, combatting illegal robocalls and malicious spoofing has become the FCC’s top consumer protection priority. In anticipation of yesterday’s Open Commission Meeting, Chairman Pai issued another press release on Wednesday, calling for “a robust caller authentication system to combat illegal caller ID spoofing” and criticizing carriers that lacked commitment to deploy the SHAKEN/STIR framework by the end of 2019.
On February 14, 2019, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released its first report on illegal robocalls (“the Robocall Report”) to address the “onslaught of unwanted calls that has led a lot of consumers to stop answering the phone altogether.” This report is compiled based on data points from more than forty comments submitted by voice service providers, trade associations, analytics companies, and consumers.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), a member of the Committee and author of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), recently introduced S. 3655, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (the TRACED Act), to prevent illegal robocall scams.
The FCC has issued a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Order) adopting new rules to allow voice service providers to proactively block calls from certain numbers that are suspected to be fraudulent. The November 16 Order seeks to prevent fraud or identity theft that often accompanies calls which “spoof” or manipulate Caller ID information.