Senators Debut Robocall Protection Bill

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., on July 31, introduced a bill to combat illegal robocalls. To accomplish that aim, the Protection from Robocalling Act would end a longstanding telecom service provider exemption in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act that the bill’s sponsors say companies can exploit to conduct illegal robocall operations.

Historically, telecom companies were exempt from FTC oversight because they were regulated by other Federal agencies, but even as some Federal regulations on the telecom sector have been rolled back, telecom companies have remained exempt from FTC oversight. The resulting loophole has allowed companies to escape FTC enforcement when facilitating illegal robocalls, the senators said.

“We must do more than go after the people making the robocalls – we need to stop the phone services that make this illegal behavior possible,” Sen. Feinstein said in a statement. The bill would give the FTC authority to investigate companies that “knowingly provide [Voice over Internet Protocol] and short duration call services to illegal robocallers.”

“Our bill will close loopholes and empower an FTC crackdown on phone carriers who knowingly ignore billions of illegal and intrusive robocalls on their service lines,” Sen. Blumenthal said.

In addition to the Protection from Robocalling Act, Sen. Klobuchar introduced the Data Analytics Robocall Technology (DART) Act with Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, that establishes a pilot program to expand Federal Communications Commission efforts to block unauthentic calls at their origin.

“New technology has enabled scammers to ‘spoof’ or alter their phone numbers so that the calls appear to be local, making them nearly impossible to recognize or track,” Sen. Klobuchar said.

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