Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today introduced the REAL PEACE Act to combat the dramatic increase in illegal robocalls. The bill would end a telecom exemption in the Federal Trade Commission Act that some companies have exploited to enable illegal robocalling.
“Illegal robocalls are a nuiscance to every person with a phone number,” said Senator Feinstein. “Technology advances have helped robocallers hide their true identity and location, making it easier for them to relentlessly target and harass Americans. Our bill will close an FTC loophole so we can finally put illegal robocallers out of business.”
“This bill would close an outdated loophole that enables scammers and spammers to make intrusive and illegal robocalls to millions of unsuspecting American households, without suffering any consequences,” said Senator Blumenthal. “These calls are not just unsolicited and disruptive—they are often dangerous and used to defraud consumers. Telecommunication companies should be doing everything they can to protect their customers from illegal robocalls. The REAL PEACE Act will give long neglected enforcement authority to the FTC that allows them to more aggressively crack down on these calls and finally hold bad actors accountable.”
“Most robocalls aren’t just unwanted and disruptive – they are illegal,” said Senator Klobuchar. “By closing a loophole that allows robocall companies to bother, harass, and scam consumers, this bill will enable the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on illegal robocalls and those who make them.”
Telecom companies were orginally exempted from FTC oversight because they were regulated by other federal agencies. However, as those federal regulations were rolled back, the exemption remained in place. This created a loophole that allows telecom companies that actively facilitate illegal robocalling to escape FTC enforcement. The REAL PEACE Act closes that loophole, giving the FTC the authority it needs to investigate telecom services that play a critical role in enabling illegal robocalling.
According to the FTC, fraudulent phone calls, which includes illegal robocalling, scam Americans out of $9.5 billion a year. The FTC receives the most complaints regarding robocalls. In 2017, it received more than 4.5 million robocall complaints, up from 3.4 million in 2016.
The full text of the legislation can read here.