SENATE COMMERCE APPROVES ANOTHER ROBOCALL BILL

With the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, S. 151, awaiting Senate floor action, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has now favorably reported the Data Analysis Robocall Technology Act of 2019 (i.e., the DART Act of 2019), S. 2204. The bill, approved by a voice vote, is an amended version of the original S. 2204 introduced last July by Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

The amended version directs the Federal Communications Commission (the Commission), not later than 18 months after the date of enactment, to conduct a rulemaking proceeding “to consider establishing a process under which the Commission shall maintain a list of numbers that are not eligible to be blocked by a voice service provider….” The Commission is already considering such a Critical Calls List as part of its Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in its ongoing Docket No.17-89 (Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls) (Third FNPRM).

S. 2204 would specifically permit four categories of numbers to be included on the list developed by the prescribed rulemaking:

  • Numbers used for outgoing calls by a public safety answering point or similar facility that is designated to originate or route emergency calls.
  • Those to originate calls from a government entity, such as a call generated during an emergency.
  • Numbers used by a school, or a similar institution, to provide school-related notifications, such as notifications regarding (a) a weather-related closure or (b) the existence of an emergency affecting a school or students attending a school.
  • Those used for similar or emergency purposes, as determined by the Commission.

These categories are not dissimilar from some of those being considered in the Third FNPRM for inclusion on a Critical Calls List. Indeed, the bill makes clear that it is not intended to “impede or delay” that analysis and development of such a list in that proceeding.

The bill also requires the Commission, not later than 180 days after the date on which the Commission receives any report regarding the effectiveness of call blocking tools prescribed by the Commission in conjunction with the Third FNPRM, to submit  to both the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee “an analysis by the Commission with respect to the effectiveness of various categories of call blocking tools, as evaluated in the report; and…any legislative recommendations of the Commission relating to the report.”

With the immediate focus, undoubtedly, on Senate passage of S. 151, action this year on S. 2204 would appear uncertain. But there are no predictions by TCPAWorld at this juncture.

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