A bipartisan bill introduced by House lawmakers on Thursday would give the Federal Communications Commission the authority to issue harsher penalties against callers who violate robocall laws, according to a press release by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
This week, the bill will move forward through the Communications and Technology Subcommittee.
Led by Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and ranking member Greg Walden (R-OR), the proposal aims to stop abusive robocall practices. Specifically, the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, as it’s called, would direct the FCC to issue rules to protect consumers from calls they didn’t consent to receive and ensure that consumers can withdraw such consent. It would also require the FCC to enact safeguards so companies cannot abuse robocall exemptions.
Additionally, the bill aims to ensure that the FCC has the necessary tools and authority to take “strong, quick action when it tracks down robocallers,” according to the release. Once example of this expanded authority is an extension of the statute of limitations to four years from one year for callers violating robocall prohibitions.
The bipartisan bill also mandates that the FCC submit a report to Congress on the implementation of its reassigned numbers database to ensure the commission is effectively curbing unwanted calls, the release said.
For phone carriers, the bill would implement call authentication technology to boost caller ID accuracy and allow carriers to offer call-blocking services to consumers for no extra fee.
According to release, an estimated 48 billion robocalls were placed nationwide last year, up 55% from 2017. Along those lines, the FCC received 232,000 consumer complaints of unwanted calls in 2018, a 34% jump from 2015.