The Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act (S 151, 116th Congress) provides a variety of authorities to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enforce regulatory mechanisms against criminal robocalls. Existing federal law and regulations state that robocalls are illegal if they try to sell something to an individual without that individual’s permission. The provisions of this Act, some of which are detailed below, direct more federal attention and effort towards combating illegal robocalls.
This Act amends the Federal Communications Act at 47 U.S.C. 227 to add and enforce civil forfeiture penalties (i.e., fines) against parties who intentionally violate restrictions on the use of automated telephone technology, i.e., robocalls. Civil forfeiture is a legal process where the government may seize property or assets belonging to persons or entities that are suspected of committing a crime—in this case, conducting criminal robocalls—even if that entity has not been convicted of a crime. In establishing these fines on robocalls, this Act simultaneously eliminates a requirement for the FCC to report on junk faxes, i.e., faxes sent by automated telephone equipment.
This Act further amends 47 U.S.C. 227 to require the FCC to create rules that would establish a fast and efficient methodology for private entities to share with the FCC any robocall content in violation of US law. Shared robocall content can include calls, text messages, and inaccurate caller identification information that was part of an unsolicited robocall received by a private entity.
Additionally, this Act mandates that FCC require voice service providers to implement call authentication measures on both internet protocol networks and telephone line networks. The Act also directs the FCC to create rules to protect individuals from receiving unwanted calls and text messages from unauthenticated telephone numbers. In creating these rules, the FCC must consider effective ways for individuals to block calls and the effectiveness of verifying the accuracy of caller identification to help protect consumers.
Among other provisions not listed here, the Act requires FCC to create the Hospital Robocall Protection Group, consisting of stakeholders such as representatives from hospitals, voice service providers, and companies seeking to mitigate illegal robocalls. Those stakeholders would issue best practices on preventing illegal robocalls from reaching hospitals and on protecting hospitals from receiving those calls.