Congress Juggles TCPA Bills As TRACED Act Gains Momentum

TCPA Connect

Momentum continues to build for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) legislation, with several bills pending in Congress and dozens of lawmakers signing on to support the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act.

Introduced by Sens. John Thune (D-S.D.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the TRACED Act (S.B. 151) would require voice service providers to adopt call authentication technology and expand the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call on callers that intentionally violate robocall restrictions.

S.B. 151 would also direct the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts and allow other federal regulators (including the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Justice, among others) to bring enforcement actions.

Dozens of senators have joined as co-sponsors of the bill, which remains in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and a coalition of all 50 states’ plus four territories’ attorneys general sent a letter endorsing the legislation.

Even as the TRACED Act gains additional supporters, other TCPA bills have been introduced.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) reintroduced the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, a measure that would redefine the term “robocall” as a call made or text message sent “using equipment that makes a series of calls to stored telephone numbers, including numbers stored on a list, or to telephone numbers produced using a random or sequential number generator, except for a call made using only equipment that the caller demonstrates requires substantial additional human intervention to dial or place a call after a human initiates the series of calls” or “using an artificial or prerecorded voice.”

H.R. 946 would also permit consumers to revoke consent previously given to receive calls “at any time and in any reasonable manner, regardless of the context in which consent was provided.” FCC enforcement powers would be expanded under the bill, and the statute of limitations would be extended from one to four years for TCPA liability.

After previous attempts at passage failed, the Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls (HANGUP) Act has also reappeared, with a proposal that would remove the TCPA exemption for federal debt collectors and government contractors.

Other new measures include the Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act, which would authorize the FCC to pursue cases for robocall violations without first issuing a citation, and would extend the statute of limitations for both robocall violations (from one to three years) and spoofing violations (from two to three years). The FCC Modernization Act, another such measure, would tweak the FCC’s reporting requirements to include all TCPA complaints and enforcement actions regarding robocalls and spoofed phone calls over the prior year.

To read the TRACED Act, click here.
To read the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, click here.
To read the HANGUP Act, click here.
To read the Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act, click here.
To read the FCC Modernization Act, click here.

Why it matters: Passage of a TCPA bill appears increasingly likely, as bipartisan support for such a measure continues to grow in Congress. The top contender: the TRACED Act, which was favorably reported by in committee, with a companion version introduced in the House (H.R. 1602) by Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.).