Anti-Robocall Bill Gets Bipartisan Backing

Seized by nearly five billion unwanted automated calls from telemarketers and scammers last month, Americans are ready to get relief from robocalls under a bipartisan compromise bill introduced on Thursday.

The measure will require telephone operators to offer screening technology to identify and block spam at no additional cost to customers within 18 months of the bill being adopted.

Called the "Stop Bad Robocalls Act" the law was first introduced in February by Democrats, who finally reached an agreement Thursday with Republicans in the bill's language.

Revised The bill was unveiled by the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Frank Pallone Jr., the Democrat of New Jersey, and the committee's ranking member, Greg Walden, Republican Oregon. It would apply to both cordless phones and land lines, according to Mr. Pallone, who said he was optimistic about the bill chances of winning House and Senate approval and being signed by President Trump.

"At one point this was just a nuisance. Now there are so many indications that this puts people at risk," said Mr. Pallone in an interview Thursday. "You have now explained these scammers as I.R.S. You have those who are disguised as police officers. From personal experience, I believe it undermines people's belief in the telephone system and they do not respond. "The compromise between Democrats and Republicans on the committee came a month after the Senate overwhelmingly approved separate anti-robocall legislation to respond to the composition of unwanted conversations. Consumer patrons said the Senate version did not go far enough to solve the problem.

"Many conversations are scams, and they must be stopped," said Margot Saunders, senior adviser to the National Consumer Law Center. "Republicans and Democrats have recognized that Be aggressive in addressing robokals, and this bill is a reflection of it. "

The National Consumer Law Center, a Boston-based nonprofit, participated in the drafting of the bill, scheduled for discussion next week. The group supported a class-action lawsuit against the Hilton Grand Vacations Company, where consumers accused the company of causing people to push a button on their automation call system to avoid meeting the Federal Communications Commission definition of a robocall. Hilton had disputed that it violated the law and won a court of law, which the plaintiffs appealed in January in the federal court.

"If the FCC does what this bill tells it to do, it will stop many conversations, and that's a big deal, Saunders said.

Another important aspect of the law would extend the law on the submission of robocall- Related complaints with FCC Consumers now have one year to file, under the bill they will have three years – and in some cases up to four years – to file a complaint.

A FCC spokesman refused to comment on Thursday .

A top lobbying group for the wireless industry signaled its support for push against robocalls.

"The wireless industry is committed to combating illegal robocols and protecting consumers, and we thank the committee's management for tackling this important problem, "said Kelly Cole, senior vice president of public affairs at CTIA a wireless industry trading group based in Washington." We look forward to working on getting roboc All the laws passed. "

Robocall's ailments have increased the popularity of sites like YouMail, which offer a free robocall blocking app, in addition to paid ] services. According to YouMail, there were about five billion robokals in May, about twice the number two years ago.

According to law, F.C.C. would be required to report to Congress about their efforts to update a database of phone number changes – so callers will have a person's latest contact information and avoid calling an old phone number.

"They won't apologize anymore when they thought to call you and they called me," Saunders said.

Mr. Pallone said Americans had become so tired of receiving unwanted calls, also from abroad, that they could accidentally miss important calls.

"More and more, I don't answer the phone," he said.

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