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Latta Authors Bipartisan Bill to Combat Illegal Robocall Nuisance

Washington, April 29, 2019 | Drew Griffin (202-225-6405)

Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH) has authored legislation, the Support Tools to Obliterate Pesky (STOP) Robocalls Act, to take action to combat the nuisance that Americans are facing from illegal robocalls. One study found that Americans were targeted with more than 26 billion robocalls in 2018, a 46% increase over the year before.

In his role as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee last Congress, Congressman Latta conducted a hearing on illegal robocalls where the subcommittee heard about how difficult it is to hold bad actors accountable as they are often located overseas and change tactics regularly. The STOP Robocalls Act will be part of a legislative subcommittee hearing in the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology (C&T) on Tuesday. Congressman Latta serves as the Republican Leader on that subcommittee. C&T Subcommittee Chairman Michael Doyle (D-PA) is an original cosponsor of the legislation.

“Nearly every American has faced that moment where they think they’re getting a call from somebody they know, only to realize it’s an annoying robocall,” said Latta. “They’re a nuisance, a waste of time, and the scams perpetrated by robocallers often have a real-life impact on our vulnerable populations. The STOP Robocalls Act takes a multi-prong approach to the problem by easing the ability for customers to utilize robocall blocking services, establishing a process for private entities to share information with the Federal Communications Commission, and conducting a study on the benefits of requiring the maintenance of records by providers of covered voice over internet protocol service. The proliferation of robocalls is a quality-of-life issue, and we need to take action to curtail them.”

“I’m pleased to work with Ranking Member Latta to halt the onslaught of annoying and illegal robocalls most Americans are experiencing,” said Doyle.  

The bill:

·         Allows a carrier of voice services to provide robocall blocking technologies to customers on an informed opt-out basis at no charge. This would not alter providers’ current ability to offer robocall blocking services on an informed opt-in basis, whether or not in exchange for a fee. Many opt-in services have a low adoption rate, therefore, this new provision is intended to create a pathway for customers to receive free illegal robocall blocking services.

·         Requires the FCC to promulgate regulations to establish a process for private entities to voluntarily share information with the Commission. Such information includes a call or text message that has been illegally spoofed or is an illegal robocall. This is intended to allow better information sharing between private companies and the FCC to better track and stop illegal robocalls and spoofing.

·         Requires the FCC to conduct a study on requiring a provider of covered voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service to retain records relating to each call transmitted over VoIP that are sufficient to trace and track the source of the call. This is intended to provide information to the Commission that can better assist in tracking and tracing illegal robocalls. 

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