Robocall-crushing TRACED act passes Senate and heads to Oval Office

Somehow during all the partisan furor of the last few days, the Senate found a moment to vote some bipartisan legislation into law — presuming, of course, it survives the president’s desk. The TRACED act pushes carriers to kill robocalls before they ring, and gives the FCC some extra juice to pursue the wicked ones perpetrating them.

“We’re delighted the Senate acted quickly to pass this legislation to shutdown illegal robocalls,” wrote the bill’s co-sponsors in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement. “We’re working hard to help the American people get real relief from these relentless and illegal calls. We look forward to the President signing this overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation into law very soon.”

Unlike many things called bipartisan, this one really is. Two different versions of the bill originated in the House and Senate and were passed individually with overwhelming majorities. The pertinent committees put their heads together and created a unified version of the bill they could both live with. Amazingly, that was just last month, and now the bill is off to the White House for the Executive signature.

You can read a summary of what the bill does here, but I’ll summarize further:

  • Extends FCC’s statute of limitations on robocall offenses and increases potential fines
  • Requires an FCC rulemaking helping protect consumers from spam calls and texts (this is already underway)
  • Requires annual FCC report on robocall enforcement and allows for it to formally recommend legislation
  • Requires adoption on a reasonable timeline of the STIR/SHAKEN framework for preventing call spoofing
  • Prevents carriers from charging for the above service, and shields them from liability for reasonable mistakes
  • Requires the Attorney General to convene an interagency task force to look at prosecution of offenders
  • Opens the door to Justice Department prosecution of offenders
  • Establishes a handful of specific cutouts and studies to make sure the rules work and interested parties are giving feedback

Overall it seems like a good bill and quite focused on this specific issue — no weird pork attached. Here’s hoping the TRACED act is signed into law quickly.

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