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Gianforte welcomes FCC ruling to block unwanted robocalls

 


From the office of Rep. Greg Gianforte 

WASHINGTON — Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., welcomed Thursday a Federal Communications Commission’s ruling to provide Americans with relief from unwanted robocalls.

“Montanans are sick and tired of pesky, unwanted and illegal robocalls. Today’s ruling from the FCC is a win for Montanans and makes it easier for them to get some relief from robocalls,” Gianforte said. “While this administrative action is a step in the right direction, I’ll continue working on a permanent legislative solution that ends unwanted and spamming robocalls.”

The FCC’s ruling allows phone companies to automatically block illegal and unwanted robocalls from reaching consumers.

Gianforte recently signed onto bipartisan legislation to combat illegal robocalls. The STOP Robocalls Act makes it easier for customers to use robocall-blocking services. It also establishes a process for private entities to share information with the FCC to better track and stop illegal robocalls, texts, or spoofing. Finally, the bill requires the FCC to study the benefits of requiring VoIP providers to maintain records to assist the FCC in tracking and tracing illegal robocalls.

In recent congressional hearings, Gianforte pressed officials from the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission about what they were doing to protect Montanans from robocalls. At both hearings, Gianforte told lawmakers and leading officials about what Montanans face with robocalls, including the experience of a young woman in Bozeman who received a robocall from the number of her recently deceased younger brother.

Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Steve Daines, R-Mont., are both co-sponsors of the TRACED Act of Sen. Jon Thune, R-S.D., that includes a number of provisions aimed at stopping robocalls, including that it:

• Extends the time frame in which the Federal Communications Commission can catch and punish companies or individuals that intentionally break telemarketing restrictions from one year to three.

• Requires voice service providers to implement an authentication framework to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.

• Directs the FCC to craft a plan to block calls that cannot be authenticated through the framework.

• Directs the FCC to track which organizations or individuals purchase which phone numbers in order to identify and trace robocall violators.

• Establishes an Interagency Working Group to make recommendations to Congress on how to improve deterrence and criminal prosecution of robocall scams at the federal and state levels. The group would include representatives from the Department of Justice, FCC, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other relevant federal agencies, as well as state attorneys general and other non-federal entities. 

The bill passed the Senate May 23 on a 97-1 vote — only Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., voted against it — and has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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Havre Daily News staff contributed to this report.

 

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