(BIVN) – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz is taking on illegal robocalls – automated phone calls often linked to scams or spoofing – and the Democrat from Hawaiʻi already introduced the Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act last year.
During a Senate subcommittee hearing today in Washington, Schatz talked about the growing frustration of his constituents over the robocalls. The senator said he even got a text from his mother on Tuesday.
“I am reaching out to my senator,” Schatz said, reading his mother’s text to the committee. “I just got spam calls to my own landline, supposedly from my landline. What is the regular person supposed to do except grin and bear it?”
“So I texted back, ‘on it’,” Schatz said, to bipartisan laughter.
As the top Democrat on the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, Schatz was afforded an opening statement before today’s hearing. “Frustration with illegal robocalls is something that crosses state lines, party lines, and phone lines and unites Americans everywhere,” he said. “Robocalls have turned us into a nation of call screeners. We only pick up when we are sure we know who’s calling. Some people just don’t make or take calls on their cell phones, or have cut their landlines because of robocalls. And despite the laws we already have in place, the deluge is getting worse.”
According to Schatz, robocall complaints have rapidly increased in recent years. “In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 4.5 million robocall complaints, an increase of over a million calls from the year before,” an email from the senator read. “The process of identifying and going after robocall violators often takes months, making it difficult to move forward with a case under the current one-year statute of limitations.”
Witnesses speaking at today’s hearing included Doug Peterson – the Attorney General for the State of Nebraska, Kevin Rupy – Partner at Wiley Rein, Representing US Telecom The Broadband Association, and Margot Saunders – Counsel for the National Consumer Law Center.
Schatz’s Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act would help the Federal Communications Commission prosecute violations of robocalls by increasing the statute of limitations from one year to three.
Last week, Schatz also voted to advance the TRACED Act, bipartisan legislation to crack down on illegal robocall scams.