Will the TRACED Act Succeed in Addressing the Growing Robocalls Problem—Without Blocking Legitimate Calls?

Experts, including ACA International’s Vice President and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy Leah Dempsey, share their outlook on the proposal aimed at mitigating robocall scams with Bloomberg Law.

3/5/2019 1:00 PM

Will the TRACED Act Succeed in Addressing the Growing Robocalls Problem—Without Blocking Legitimate Calls?

The bipartisan Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, S. 151, has its pros and cons for regulators, telecom attorneys, phone companies and businesses working with consumers, such as those in the accounts receivable management industry, reports Bloomberg Law.

Leah Dempsey, ACA International’s vice president and senior counsel of federal advocacy, told Bloomberg Law reporters Alexis Kramer and Sara Merken, “The bill lacks clear distinctions between bad actors and businesses sending legitimate messages to customers, such as appointment reminders or prescription alerts,” in an article titled “Savvy Scammers May Put Bipartisan Robocall Bill to Test.”

Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., along with U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., reintroduced the controversial bipartisan legislation that aims to mitigate robocall scams in January.

According to data from Bloomberg Government highlighted in the article, “at least a dozen different robocall measures have been introduced since 2015 with none passing.”

But the TRACED Act has “good prospects of passage.”

The proposal would require call authentication and blocking adoption and broaden the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call. It also directs the FCC to provide a safe harbor for blocking calls based in whole or in part, on the information provided by the call authentication framework under SHAKEN/STIR, among other requirements.

Bloomberg Law reports the FCC supports the legislation, along with some industry and consumer groups. But, how effective will it be?

“Giving the FCC more enforcement power is not going to help because the people making these calls are covering their tracks quite well and probably aren’t going to pay the fines anyway,” Charles H. Kennedy, partner at Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP and senior adjunct fellow at technology think tank TechFreedom, said in the article.

Adds Christine M. Reilly, an attorney at Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP and chair of the firm’s TCPA compliance and class action defense group, there is an “inherent push and pull between wanting to protect customers and wanting to protect legitimate business needs. It’s very hard to craft a bill that balances competing viewpoints on how far the law should go.”

Read more insights on the legislation in the Bloomberg Law report.

Meanwhile, ACA International continues to work with Congress to improve upon the TRACED Act in the Senate as well as watch for companion legislation from the U.S. House of Representatives.

While the legislation contains some important tools for handling bad actors, ACA International continues to raise concerns about its failure to draw clear distinctions between legitimate callers and scammers, and to provide important protections for legal calls.

Related Content from ACA International:

Sens. Markey, Thune, Reintroduce Legislation Aimed at Mitigating Robocall Scams

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