Rep. Frank Pallone introduced the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act with Rep. Greg Walden
Photo: Associated Press

A comprehensive robocall-fighting piece of legislation—that would help stop the robocall scourge and prevent American consumers from paying for blocking tools—is finally slated for a U.S. House of Representatives vote

On Wednesday morning the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee voted unanimously to report the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, as amended, to the full House.

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The bill would make many common robocall practices illegal and give the U.S. government more power to penalize fraudsters.

Under the bill, the Federal Communications Commission would be required to create regulations for the use of artificial call messages and automatic dialing systems that have made it easier for scammers to send out millions of calls. The bill aims to force entities that use robocalls to prove they’ve received consent from the people they’re calling, and it would put in place means for consumers to withdraw consent.

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The legislation would also require carriers like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon to adopt caller ID authentication rules to fight call spoofing, and to make such changes a year and a half after the bill becomes law.

An estimated 4.4 billion robocalls were made in the U.S. in June, and an estimated 48 billion robocalls were made in the country in 2018, according to YouMail, a robocall-blocking service that monitors robocalls.

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During the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s meeting on the robocall bill on Wednesday morning, Democratic New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone—who introduced the bill with Republican Oregon Rep. Greg Walden—joked that he received a call from Miami during the session, which he didn’t answer because he expected it was a spam call.

“Today, the American people are one step closer to reclaiming control of their phones from annoying and illegal robocalls,” Pallone said, in a public statement after the vote. “This legislation will ensure every call Americans get is verified by Caller ID and that consumers can block calls they don’t want. I look forward to having the full House vote on our bill soon.”

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Importantly, the bill would also prevent carriers from charging consumers for call authentication technology that could help filter out robocalls.

The FCC recently passed a proposal that allows carriers to block robocalls—but it also enables those carriers to charge for such a service. This new bill could essentially kill the possibility that carriers would charge extra for this service.

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