Sen. Ernst co-sponsoring bill to crack down on illegal robocalls

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in November that “we need call authentication to become a reality.”
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WASHINGTON (KCRG) - Sen. Joni Ernst is co-sponsoring legislation to help limit automated telemarketing and other phone calls who engage in illegal practices, the senator's office announced today.

Ernst, a Republican, joined 74 other co-sponsors from both major political parties of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence, or TRACED, Act. It aims to give government regulators and law enforcement agencies additional abilities to prevent and punish illegal robocalls.

"On my 99 County Tour, I’ve personally heard from countless Iowans in my town hall meetings about intrusive and illegal robocalls,” Ernst said, in a statement. "The current law doesn’t do nearly enough to deal with scammers who are intentionally and aggressively breaking telemarketing rules, and it’s past time we modernize our policies to stop them. The bipartisan TRACED Act will give authorities the necessary tools to go after robocall scam artists and to better enforce the rules on the books."

The legislation would allow the Federal Communications Commission to act on penalties for a violation of current rules for up to three years after it occurs, instead of the current one year limit. It would also get rid of the requirement for the FCC to issue a formal citation first.

The FCC would be directed to draft new rules for requiring telephone providers to prevent caller ID spoofing, which makes an incoming call appear that it comes from a local number. This tricks the receiver into thinking it may be an important call. The commission would also need to adopt rules to provide an ability for telephone subscribers to prevent receiving unwanted calls or text messages.

The bill would also establish a board of law enforcement and other involved parties in robocall enforcement to recommend other legislative, regulatory, or policy goals to curb criminal robocalling. They would operate under the authority of the U.S. Attorney General.

The TRACED Act passed the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation unanimously on April 3.