As TCPAWorld approaches the first anniversary of the TRACED Act (December 30 will be one year) (https://www.congress.gov/116/plaws/publ105/PLAW-116publ105.pdf), the interagency working group (Working Group) set up pursuant to Section 5 of the statute has filed its required one-time report to Congress (Report) (https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1331576/download). Per the statute, the Report is made to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
The Working Group was convened by the Attorney General, in consultation with the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and included among other agencies the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. Non-federal stakeholders such as the National Association of Attorneys General were also to be consulted.
The law included a laundry list of questions and factors the Working Group was directed to consider, which the Report summarizes as to “study prosecutions under Section 227(b)” of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). First and arguably foremost, the Working Group was to “determine whether, and if so how, any Federal laws, including regulations, policies, and practices, or budgetary or jurisdictional constraints inhibit the prosecution of such prosecutions.”
The resulting report was to include “(a) any recommendations regarding the prevention and prosecution of such violations and (b) a description of what progress, if any, relevant Federal departments and agencies have made in implementing those recommendations.” The Group’s objectives “included studying the requirements of the TRACED Act, improving coordination among agencies and with the private sector, and promoting the identification, investigation, deterrence, and prosecution of criminal robocall schemes.”
The Report highlights specific enforcement actions filed by the Department of Justice and the FTC. The FCC’s actions under the TRACED Act with respect to spoofed robocalls and efforts by the FCC and FTC to stem COVID-19 scam calls are detailed. The FCC’s call blocking initiatives under the TRACED Act are outlined, along with the establishment of the consortium that will conduct private-led efforts to trace back the origin of suspected unlawful robocalls. The Report also addresses the activities of the State Attorneys General, working in part with the FCC.
As for the “Working Group’s future,” the Report notes that the members “are using decades of experience and creative thinking to develop new approaches to preventing unlawful robocalls. Some of these ideas involve work with private industry to more quickly and easily identify and cut off unlawful traffic. Others involve collaboration with foreign law enforcement that may have a greater ability to quickly shut down call centers from which illegal robocalls emanate.”
While the he Report includes no list of specific recommendations for legislation or regulatory changes, as a parting message to its recipients the Working Group “welcomes the support and the continued commitment of Congress in the fight against unlawful robocall schemes.”