Udall, Schatz introduce legislation to fight illegal robocalls

U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), members of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced legislation to help the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fight illegal telemarketing calls, also known as robocalls. The legislation, the Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2018, would empower the FCC to prosecute violations of its automated telemarketing call rules by increasing the statute of limitations from one year to three.

“Abusive robocalls aren’t just a nuisance – they are illegal, and the individuals behind them should be punished for breaking the law,” said Udall. “Last year, more than 37,000 New Mexicans logged complaints with the Federal Trade Commission about unwanted robocalls violating Do Not Call regulations. That is unacceptable, and we must do more to ensure that we are protecting consumers from unsolicited and fraudulent robocallers. This common-sense bill is an important first step.”

“If there is one thing Americans can agree on, it’s that robocalls often cross the line,” said Schatz. “With this bill, the FCC will have the time and authority it needs to keep abusive robocalls in check.”

Complaints about unwanted robocalls have rapidly increased in recent years. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 4.5 million robocall complaints, an increase of over a million calls from the year before. The process of identifying and going after robocall violators often takes months, making it difficult to move forward with a case under the current one year statute of limitations.

The legislation would help regulators fight illegal robocalls by:

  • Lengthening the statute of limitations for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pursuing violations of its robocall rules from one to three years;
  • Lengthening the statute of limitations for the FCC pursuing violations of its rules against callers using fake caller identification information, also known as spoofing, from two years to three; and
  • Allowing the FCC to pursue cases against robocall rule violations without first issuing a citation.

The bill is co-sponsored by Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet Subcommittee members U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash).