What just happened? A robocalling bill is one step closer to becoming law. The United States House of Representatives considered the legislation on Wednesday and overwhelmingly passed it 429-3. The proposed measure still needs Senate and executive approval.
The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act will allow law enforcement to pursue robocall scammers more aggressively. It increases the penalties that can be imposed on fraudulent calls and requires service providers to implement call authentication platforms, specifically SHAKEN/STIR, by 2020. It will also call for the Federal Communications Commission to redefine what it considers robocalls.
"The rising tide of illegal robocalls was once a nuisance, but it has grown to threaten the way consumers view and use their telephones," said Democratic Representative Frank Pallone, sponsor of the bill in a statement last month. "If we don't get a handle on them, I am fearful robocalls will undermine our entire phone system."
Despite the bombastic rhetoric, nearly the entire House was in favor of the bill passing it 429-3, notes The Hill. However, lawmakers were not the only ones supporting the legislation. Charter Communications, AARP, Consumer Reports, and others also praised the measure. Even Verizon's Senior Vice President of Federal Legislative Affairs Robert Fisher issued a statement of support.
"Enough is enough - it's time for Americans to hang up on abusive robocallers once and for all," Fisher said. "Verizon has already begun deploying the STIR-SHAKEN call authentication protocol for IP Voice services, and we welcome the continued momentum toward a bipartisan, comprehensive solution that empowers service providers, law enforcement, and most of all consumers."
The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act still has two more stops before becoming law. First, the bill will be sent to the Senate where it is expected to pass since legislators there approved a similar proposal called the TRACED Act earlier this year. If supported, it will be sent to the White House for President Trump to sign.