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Legislation vs. Automation: The “Stopping Bad Robocalls Act”

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. and Ranking Member Greg Walden have unveiled the bipartisan Stopping Bad Robocalls Act.

“Americans deserve to be free of the daily danger and harassment of robocalls,” Pallone and Walden said in a statement.  “It’s time we end the robocall epidemic and restore trust back into our phone system. We’re pleased to announce we’ve reached a deal on comprehensive bipartisan legislation to stop illegal robocalls.”

“The bipartisan Stopping Bad Robocalls Act offers consumers a way out by ensuring that every call they get is verified,” Pallone and Walden continued.  “Americans should be able to block robocalls in a consistent and transparent way without being charged extra for it. Our legislation also gives the FCC and law enforcement the authority to enforce the law and quickly go after scammers.  We look forward to moving this bill through the Communications and Technology Subcommittee next week.”

The New York Times reports that the bipartisan bill came a month after “the Senate overwhelmingly approved separate anti-robocall legislation to respond to constituent furor over unwanted calls.” NYT notes that consumer advocates believe the Senate action didn’t go far enough, though it is one of several steps being taken to curb robocalls and “autodialers.”

In May, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to implement the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). According to the CFPB, the proposal would provide consumers with clearer protections against harassment by debt collectors, including robocalls. For mortgage servicers and other debt collectors, these outlines require a closer look.

The National Mortgage Servicing Association (NMSA) last year wrote a letter to the to the Federal Communications Commision (FCC), outlining their suggestions for changes to regulations imposed by the TCPA. One suggestion involved a re-examination of the definition of an "autodialer." For example, the NMSA proposed that it should be made clear that the definition of an autodialer does not include dialing from a list, and that the technology used must involve both generating a phone number in random or sequential order and calling that generated number.

About Author: Seth Welborn

Seth Welborn is a Harding University graduate with a degree in English and a minor in writing. He is a contributing writer for MReport. An East Texas Native, he has studied abroad in Athens, Greece and works part-time as a photographer.
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