SENATORS URGE ATTORNEY GENERAL ON ROBOCALL WORKING GROUP

A central feature of the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, now Public Law 116-105, is the requirement that the Attorney General of the United States, in consultation with the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), convene an “interagency working group to study Government prosecution of violations of section 227(b)” of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Now, two Senators instrumental in the passage of the TRACED Act have urged Attorney General William Barr to get moving. In a letter sent to Mr. Barr late last week, Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Edward Markey (D-MA) urged him to “swiftly convene” the group. The operative section of the new statute (Section 5) does not provide a specific deadline for the Attorney General to do so. However, not later than 270 days after December 30, 2019 (i.e., by September 20, 2020), the working group must submit to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Senate counterpart, a report on the findings of the study, including “any recommendations regarding the prevention and prosecution” of violations and what progress, if any, relevant Federal departments have made “implementing the recommendations.”

The Senators told the Attorney General: “[Y]our duties required by the TRACED Act are imperative to the success of the law and deterrence of illegal robocalls, and we urge you swiftly and forcefully begin implementation of your new statutory obligations to stop this plague on American consumers.” “The interagency working group, under your direction, has enormous potential to help with the deterrence of illegal and abusive robocalls at home and abroad.”

Although final membership is determined by the Attorney General, the working group must include representatives of the Departments of Commerce, State and Homeland Security, along with the FCC, Federal Trade Commission and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. In carrying out its responsibilities, the working group also is to “consult with such non-Federal stakeholders as the Attorney General determines [to] have the relevant expertise, including the National Association of Attorneys General.”

This additional stimulus to start implementing the TRACED Act follows FCC Chairman Pai’s circulation to his fellow Commissioners proposed new rules that would “establish a registration process for selecting a consortium to conduct private-led efforts to trace back the origin of suspected unlawful robocalls.” The consortium is another organizational requirement of the TRACED Act.

TCPAWorld will, of course, continue to follow the progress of TRACED Act implementation.

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