Incredibly, there is something that the Democratic and Republican parties can agree on: robocalls are really annoying. A new bill passed by an almost unanimous vote of 417-3 in the U.S. House of Representatives this week that is intended to hit back on automated calls pestering people daily.
The bill is called the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence, or TRACED Act, according to KSN. TRACED will put the onus on phone service providers to create caller-ID programs to filter unauthenticated phone calls. The New York Post reports that a call-authentication framework can tell the difference between unauthenticated phone numbers, and ones that are simply unfamiliar. It should not block consumers from receiving calls from unknown numbers entirely.
“The robocall issue is one issue, maybe the one issue, that’s united everybody, Republicans, and Democrats,” Rep. David Kustoff, a Republican from Tennessee, told reporters.
New Jersey Democrat Rep. Frank Pallone, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, celebrated the change, saying, “Today, the house is giving Americans back control of their phones.”
Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at The Consumer Federation of America, said that the bill’s is tackling one of the most common ways these robocalls get through to people’s phones.
“It’s a good step to tackle one of the problems with robocalls, and that is the problem of calling ID spoofing,” said Grant.
Margot Saunders of the National Consumer Law Center released a statement last week, saying this bill is a win for consumers across the U.S.
“This bipartisan bill unquestionably moves the ball forward to protect consumers from unwanted robocalls, especially by requiring that all telephone systems in the U.S. implement a coordinated authentication methodology to improve the accuracy of caller-ID displayed on our phones,” she said.
Once automated callers have been identified, the bill extends the amount of time government regulators have to track down scammers, and make the penalties more severe and accessible to prosecutors. The Act is expected to pass through the Senate in the next few weeks, and may even be signed into law before Christmas. A peaceful new year could be ahead! (At least when it comes to the phone lines.)