We're grateful for Sen. John Thune's leadership in introducing and shepherding a bill (called the TRACED Act) through the U.S. Senate that addresses the problem of robocalls.
These are automated telephone calls intended to sell a product, change opinion or gather information for another purpose. They have become an extraordinary irritant to anyone with a phone, and are the number one complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission.
Thune's position as chairman on the Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet gives him a front row seat to the problem. One alleged abuser of the technology, Adrian Abramovich, is accused of sending 97 million fraudulent robocalls between 2015-2016.
The TRACED Act passed the Senate on a vote of 97-1, which almost never happens in this divided time. Thune is hopeful the House will consider it without delay.
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The bill increases the financial penalty to $10,000 per call, works toward creating a credible threat of criminal prosecution and prison, and makes it easier for carriers to lawfully block calls from reaching us in the first place.
So the big question (if passed by the House and signed by the President) is "Will it work?"
No one knows. Criminal behavior and greed aren't easily vexed. Some criminals may modify the technology to avoid detection. The details of enforcement and prosecution are yet to be tested.
We'll need to wait and see. Assuming it is put into law, it will take time to see results. But we appreciate the effort of Congress and others to address this problem head-on.