Legislators Introduce Bill to Build on TRACED Act Efforts Mitigating Illegal Robocalls

phone and gavelThe new bipartisan legislation is designed to support efforts to trace origins of illegal robocalls and hold ‘bad actors’ accountable. ACA’s advocacy lead Leah Dempsey recently spoke on the issue at a telecommunications conference.

3 minute read

12/9/2021 2:30 P.M.

Three years after the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act was signed into law, its authors, U.S. Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., are back with a bill to bolster privately led efforts to trace back the origins of illegal robocalls.

The Robocall Trace Back Enhancement Act would “provide liability protection for the sharing of information regarding suspected fraudulent, abusive, or unlawful robocalls, illegally spoofed calls, and other illegal calls by or with the registered consortium that conducts private-led efforts to trace back the origin of suspected unlawful robocalls, and for the receipt of such information by that registered consortium, and for other purposes,” according to a draft of the bill.

Markey said in a news release the Robocall Trace Back Enhancement Act is a “natural extension” of the TRACED Act.

Thune added in a news release from his office that the Robocall Trace Back Enforcement Act will build on federal efforts to hold bad actors responsible.

ACA International completed considerable advocacy efforts on the TRACED Act, resulting in significant transformations of the law from its original form.

Improvements ACA worked for included removing the problematic definition of a “called party,” broad language about consent revocation and improving language on call blocking.

The TRACED Act has prompted several rulemakings by the Federal Communications Commission and reports from the FCC to Congress. There are still several deadlines to meet under the law, such as establishing a process that streamlines the methods in which a “private entity may voluntarily share with the information relating to a call or text message sent in violation of Section 227(b) and (b) a call or text message with spoofed caller ID information in violation of Section 227(c),” according to The National Law Review.

Leah Dempsey, ACA’s vice president and senior counsel of federal advocacy, recently spoke on the topic of illegal robocalls and the TRACED Act during a panel at the Practising Law Institute on Telecommunications Policy and Regulation Dec. 8.

Dempsey said the TRACED Act provides the tools to hold bad actors responsible for illegal robocalls.

“One of the challenges is actually getting the bad actors to pay their fines, which the FCC has to work with the Department of Justice to address,” Dempsey said during the panel discussion. “For legitimate callers, this is a good thing, and we hope the FCC is using the enforcement authority it has under the TRACED Act fully.”

“[The] bipartisan Robocall Trace Back Enhancement Act would ensure that the FCC’s registered traceback consortium has the liability protections needed to aggressively track and put an end to the unlawful robocalls that continue to plague Americans,” said FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr in a news release. “I look forward to continuing to work with members of Congress and my colleagues on this issue.”

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