A new law in the U.S. aims to stop illegal robocalls [Updated]

Robocalls are annoying. And, for years, they’ve been a remarkably persistent annoyance. But it may finally get less so in the United States.

Update 12/31/2019The President of the United States has, as expected, signed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED) into law.

It took months of negotiations, but the U.S. Congress has finally approved what’s being described as a “landmark bill” on Thursday to bring an end to illegal robocalls. It’s called (deep breath) the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act, or the TRACED act. With this bill, the federal government will have new tools to go after robocallers (via The Verge).

On the money end of things, once the TRACED act is enacted it will give the Federal Communications Commission the ability to fine robocallers up to $10,000 per call. And on the network side, carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon will need to deploy the STIR/SHAKEN technologies to make it easier for subscribers to know they’re receiving a call from what’s believed to be a spoofed phone number.

The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to approve the bill at the beginning of this month, and the Senate saw a unanimous vote for the same on Thursday. That means the President of the United States needs to sign the bill for it to become law, and that is expected to happen in the next week or so.

I have yet to meet someone who says they enjoy receiving those unwanted and illegal robocalls that plague our phones,” Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said in a statement. “This bill represents a unique legislative effort that is not only bipartisan at its core, but it’s nearly unanimously supported in Congress.

Wireless carriers have been rolling out STIR/SHAKEN technologies over the last year, including T-Mobile. The carrier’s Caller Verified feature takes advantage of those features, which was described as such earlier this year:

The STIR and SHAKEN standards standards combat illegal caller ID spoofing, which occurs when scammers temporarily hijack a phone number to match the area code and 3-digit prefix of the person they are targeting, making the incoming call look familiar.

This is all very good news. Hopefully it gets signed into law sooner rather than later.