Robocall Bill Passes House

John Lister's picture

The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly backed a bill to crack down on unwanted robocalls. The bipartisan measure would increase regulatory power and make use of technology to tackle the problem.

The proposed Stopping Bad Robocalls Act passed by 429 votes to 3. It follows a 97 to 1 vote in the Senate on a similar bill in May. It's now highly likely one of the bills will pass through both houses and become law. (Source:

Robocalls are automatically dialed phone calls. Because there's no need for a human to dial the number, both legitimate marketers and scammers can make almost unlimited calls, overwhelming recipients. Politicians believe existing legislation isn't strong enough and that regulators don't always have the power to enforce it.

Caller ID Protected

The bill is based on the principle that "Consumers need to be able to put a stop to incoming robocalls, and robocalls should not be made without a consumer's consent." If passed it would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update its rules within six months. (Source:

The biggest technical measure in the bill is that the FCC would have to use new technology to stop robocallers using disguised caller-ID. That technology is already in development and works similarly to the way the real operator of a secure https website can be verified.

Under the bill, the FCC would make sure the technology is available to all phone users, regardless of their location, and that caller ID was a standard feature rather than an optional paid extra.

FCC Gets Additional Time to Catch Scammers

The bill also calls for phone carriers to offer a call blocking service that doesn't carry any extra charge for users. The service would have to include a way to see a list of calls that had been blocked. It's designed to let users spot any cases where genuine calls had been mistakenly blocked by the service.

Other changes in the bill deal with the way the FCC enforces the rules. The existing statute of limitations under which it can pursue violations would be extended from one year to either three or four years depending on the circumstances. The FCC would also have to be more active in reporting suspected criminal violations, such as fraudulent calls, to the Department of Justice.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you agree with the proposed changes? Will they be effective? How do you deal with unwanted robocalls at the moment?

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Stuart Berg's picture

I use Ooma VOIP for my home phone. When it was first offered by Ooma, several years ago, I used Nomorobo. However, I believe at that time Nomorobo was blocking some automated calls I wanted such as a doctor's office calling to confirm an appointment. So since then I've just been adding spam calls to a blocked list of calls which now number 571. However, I'm not happy that we still get spam calls. I might have to give Nomorobo another try.

Another issue I have is with the bills going through Congress. At one point the bills only applied to cell phone companies. It wasn't clear in this article above if these Senate and House bills apply to ALL phone calls or just cell service.

Chief's picture

I agree Congress needs to pass a bill which creates GUIDELINES regarding calls. However, it grinds me to no end that Congress attempts to meddle in minutia in passing a bill which will a) cause a government regulator to increase in size and b) possibly force companies out of business by writing minutia. The role of government is to write necessary rules - not specific rules. #end rant

Thanks for the update!