Senate passes bill meant to combat robocalls

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP/NC1) — The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that aims to combat the illegal robocalls many Americans feel plagued by.

The bipartisan bill was introduced by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). It wouldn’t eliminate all unwanted calls, but would give regulators more tools to go after scammers. It would also push phone companies to adopt new technology to combat fake phone numbers popping up on caller ID.

“This bipartisan, common-sense bill puts a bullseye on the scam artists and criminals who are making it difficult for many Americans to answer the phone with any bit of confidence about who’s on the other end of the line,” said Thune. “While this bill would make it easier for federal regulators to levy more substantial financial penalties on these bad actors, we take it one step further by working toward creating a credible threat of criminal prosecution – laying the ground work to put these people behind bars.”

The Senate passed the bill 97-1 on Thursday.

“It’s not every day that you see over 80 senators from all corners of the country lend such strong support to a bill like this, but I believe it highlights the urgency of this matter,” said Thune.

It’s not clear what will happen in the House, where Democrats in charge have their own anti-robocall proposals.

The bill has support from the telecom industry and consumer groups, a rare combination.

The Federal Communications Commission is also trying to push phone companies to better mitigate the problem. The nation’s communications regulator will vote in June on whether to allow carriers to block scam calls by default for customers.


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