Anti-robocall bill passes House, heads to Senate

Tired of dealing with robocall spammers and scammers? Legislative relief to U.S. consumers could be coming soon. Anti-robocall legislation was approved by the House of Representatives earlier this week with almost unanimous support, and is expected to be taken up by the Senate in the next couple of weeks, according to a new report from The Hill.

As cell carriers, phone makers and app developers continue to work on solutions to help mitigate the scourge of robocalling, the U.S. Congress has also taken up the issue.

While many phone companies already provide free robocall blocking for their customers, the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act would require it to be a free service. With most robocalls coming from spoofed numbers, the legislation would also require most U.S. carriers to make sure that calls are coming from real numbers instead.

The act also provides a more effective framework for federal regulators to find, prosecute, and penalize scammers. What’s more, the legislation puts the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on notice – the government agency responsible for the oversight of telecommunications in the U.S. would be required to deliver reports to Congress about what they’re doing to dismantle robocalling operations.

The TRACED Act will require the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to take action against robocallers more frequently. An amendment was successfully introduced to the bill to form a working group to focus on hospital robocalling, a particular area of concern for legislators, as robocalls inundating hospitals can hamper hospital communication and patient treatment.

The bill went through with an almost unanimous vote on Tuesday, with only Reps. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) voting against it. Next it goes to the Senate, where it also enjoys widespread support and is expected to be approved. If so, it could end up on the President’s desk for a signature before the end of the year.