Policy

'ROBOCOP' Bill Gains Senate Support

Act proposed by Sen. Chuck Schumer would defend against robocalls

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., listens during a public meeting. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Senator Chuck Schumer wants phone companies to provide consumers with technology that would stop voice and text message robocalls to landlines and cell phones.   

He plans to introduce a bill called the Repeated Objectionable Bothering of Consumers on Phone (ROBOCOP) Act, which also would require telephone companies to label and block fraudulent phone calls that try to hide the identity of the caller.  

“Robocalls are one of the things that annoy Americans the most and the ROBOCOP Act will finally help put a rest to these dreaded calls that are interrupting family dinners — or worse, scamming people out [of] their hard-earned money,” the New York Democrat said in a statement .   

It's already illegal for someone to mask their caller ID for fraudulent or harmful purposes. The Truth In Caller ID Act of 2009 was aimed at stopping caller ID spoofing, which makes the phone call appear to be from a bank, credit card company, or even a government agency, as a way to swindle consumers.  

The ROBOCOP Act would help consumers from ever receiving those calls, according to Schumer's statement.   

In April, similar legislation was introduced in the House by California Democrat Jackie Speier. It also includes language that would also make it illegal to hide the identity of a text message.  

The House bill has been referred to the subcommittee on Communications and Technology.  

Americans can already add their phone number to a national “Do Not Call” registry  that is supposed to prevent these unwanted robocalls.  

But that hasn't stopped the robocalls. In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission received almost 3.6 million complaints from people on the registry who'd been called.  

The FTC is on pace to receive more than five million complaints in 2016.  

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