House Approves Legislation Clarifying Robocall Prohibitions; Now Awaiting Reconciliation with Senate TRACED Act
Discussion on the future of the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act and the TRACED Act is expected over next few weeks.
7/24/2019 2:00 PM
The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that may impact legitimate businesses making informational and necessary calls to consumers, including debt collectors, July 24.
The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act (H.R. 3375), sponsored by Chairman U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J. and Ranking Member U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., was approved under suspension of House rules, allowing for quick action after 40 minutes of debate. It passed with a 429-3 vote.
ACA International appreciates that the bill directs the Federal Communications Commission to act to define an autodialer within six months. It also appreciates that the bill clarifies that there should be no cost to callers for unblocking calls and that unblocking should be done in a transparent way.
The term “called party” is defined in the legislation as “the current subscriber or customary user of the telephone number to which the call is made, determined at the time when the call is made.” As it stands now, it will be in effect when the FCC's reassigned numbers database is fully operational. ACA will be urging the Senate to remove this problematic definition during the reconciliation process, since it could increase frivolous Telephone Consumer Protection Act litigation.
H.R. 3375 advanced out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee with several amendments earlier in July, ACA previously reported.
Additional amendments passed during a markup of the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act this summer include:
- Requiring the FCC to establish a Hospital Robocall Working Group to, among other things, issue best practices to help voice service providers combat unlawful robocalls made to hospitals and to help hospitals protect themselves from robocalls. The amendment from U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., and Michael Burgess, R-Texas, also requires the FCC to initiate a proceeding to determine whether the voluntary adoption of the practices can be facilitated.
- Allowing the FCC to assess an additional $10,000 penalty for a robocall violation if the offender acted with intent to cause the violation. U.S. Reps. Bill Flores, R-Texas, and Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., offered this amendment.
Senate and House leaders are expected to discuss the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act and the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, (S. 151), in the next few weeks. The legislation could face opposition to certain provisions not only from industry stakeholders, but also from the Senate for failure to consider components of the more modest TRACED Act.
The U.S. House of Representatives will have a district work period July 29 through Sept. 6, while the Senate will break from Aug. 5 through Sept. 6.
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