Thune, Markey bill targets the worst offenders
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) a member of the committee and author of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, today announced the introduction of S. 3655, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. Amidst ever increasing numbers of robocall scams, the TRACED Act gives regulators more time to find scammers, increases civil forfeiture penalties for those caught, promotes call authentication and blocking adoption, and brings relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address impediments to criminal prosecution of robocallers who intentionally flout laws.
“The TRACED Act targets robocall scams and other intentional violations of telemarketing laws so that when authorities do catch violators, they can be held accountable,” said Thune. “Existing civil penalty rules were designed to impose penalties on lawful telemarketers who make mistakes. This enforcement regime is totally inadequate for scam artists and we need do more to separate enforcement of carelessness and other mistakes from more sinister actors.”
“As the scourge of spoofed calls and robocalls reaches epidemic levels, the bipartisan TRACED Act will provide every person with a phone much needed relief,” said Markey. “It’s a simple formula: call authentication, blocking, and enforcement, and this bill achieves all three. I thank Chairman Thune for his partnership on this effort, and look forward to seeing this legislation through to its passage.”
Summary of the TRACED Act:
In April, the Commerce Committee heard testimony under subpoena from Adrian Abramovich, the president of a now defunct company called Marketing Strategy Leaders. Abramovich, who has since been assessed a $120 million fine by the FCC for making nearly 100 million robocalls between 2015 and 2016, described a telemarketing operation as rather easy to put together and nimble, thus making enforcement difficult. His identification by the FCC and assessment of civil penalties raised questions for the committee about the lack of criminal prosecution for offenders caught intentionally and repeatedly violating telemarketing laws. As one report estimated the number of spam calls will grow from 29 percent of all phone calls this year to 45 percent of all calls next year, the TRACED Act would give the FCC more flexibility to enforce rules in the short term while setting in motion consultations to increase prosecutions of violations, which often require international cooperation.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the chairman of the committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet is also a cosponsor. Click here for a copy of S. 3655, the TRACED Act.