Pallone Floor Remarks on Anti-Robocalls Legislation
Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor today during consideration of S. 151, the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act:
Today, the House will take strong, bipartisan action to protect consumers from illegal robocalls. Talk to anyone, and you will hear just how annoyed people are by these calls. And no wonder – according to Robokiller – a whopping 5.6 billion robocalls were made to Americans in November alone. According to YouMail, more than 200 million calls have been made to the 732 area code in my Congressional District this year. That’s outrageous. Today, the House is giving Americans back control of their phones.
This is important legislation because unlawful robocalls are not only a nuisance, they are also undermining our entire phone system and consumers' safety as a result.
Too often Americans simply will not pick up their phones, out of fear that a robocall is on the other end of the line.
These calls are not just annoying, in a lot of instances they are scams targeted at consumers. And, unfortunately, these scams are becoming more sophisticated every day. At a hearing earlier this year, we learned that the Moffitt Cancer Center received 6,600 scam calls in just one month, specifically designed to appear as calls coming from within the hospital. That’s dangerous for patient safety and confidentiality.
We’ve heard similar stories of scammers disguised as the IRS, looking to collect a debt; scammers disguised as local governments—or police departments; and scammers disguised as loved ones, in trouble, looking for help. These are just a few of the examples.
All of these scams are different, and there won’t be a single silver bullet to fix them all, but the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act attacks the problem from multiple angles.
First, we are targeting fraudsters and scammers who are violating the law. This will be done by using innovative technologies to cut these calls off. Our bill requires carriers to implement a nationwide caller authentication system and to make call blocking software accessible to consumers for free. This is critical. A nationwide caller authentication system —will help ensure consumers can trust the caller-ID on their phone again. And call blocking—will stop the phone from ringing when scammers are dialing our phones. These are two critical steps that will give consumers control of their phones again.
And when it comes to blocking, the TRACED Act also ensures that there is transparency and consistency so that the calls people want are getting through.
Second, this bill will ensure that law enforcement and the Federal Communications Commission have the tools, information, and incentives to go after robocallers that break the law. We need to make sure criminal penalties are brought by the Department of Justice to deter future robocallers from getting into the business.
Third, this bill will help us go after the dodgy carriers that allow these unlawful calls to enter our networks in the first place.
These are some of the main provisions of this bipartisan bill, but there are others that will be discussed by my colleagues.
Finally, I want thank Ranking Member Walden, Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Doyle, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Latta for their leadership and for their determination in getting this final bill to the House floor today. I’d also like to thank our partners in the Senate, Senators Thune and Markey for their commitment to this issue, and for working with us on this final bipartisan, bicameral product.
The Pallone-Thune TRACED Act takes critical steps to give consumers control of their phones again. I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation today, and I hope that it will be signed into law before the end of the year.